Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


JR Butler is the Founder and CEO of Shift Group. This is an episode filled with lessons on what it takes to commit to building yourself, your team, and your business. JR is an inspiration and I can’t wait to have him back on to dive into more of his story and the work he is doing with Shift Group.

Check out Shift Group at https://shiftgroup.io and big thanks to JR on the launch of our new partnership to help amplify what he and the Shift Group team are doing to help empower elite athletes with the tools to succeed in technology startups as growing sales leaders.

Make sure to check out our big announcement on the partnership with Shift Group too!

Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


Buu Lam is a Community Evangelist at F5 supporting the growing DevCentral community. Beyond just the day to day work Buu does with F5, he’s a fantastic content creator and someone who embodies the value of customer and people first.

We cover a lot of what he has done in the transition from architect to SE to evangelist plus a deep dive into his video and audio rig! Make sure to subscribe to Buu’s channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtVH…

Plus check out what he and the team are doing on the F5 DevCentral channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtVH…

p.s. he has one of the best LinkedIn profiles ever because you can read it like a story. Seriously, check it out here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/buulam/

Sponsored by our friends at Veeam Software! Make sure to click here and get the latest and greatest data protection platform for everything from containers to your cloud!


Sponsored by the Shift Group - Shift Group is turning athletes into sales professionals. Is your company looking to hire driven, competitive former athletes? Shift Group not only offers a large pool of diverse sales candidates from entry level to leadership – they help early stage companies in developing their hiring strategy, interview process and build strong sales cultures that attract the best talent for early stage companies.


Sponsored by the 4-Step Guide to Delivering Extraordinary Software Demos that Win Deals - Click here and because we had such good response we have opened it up to make the eBook and Audiobook more accessible by offering it all for only 5$


Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing


Satyam founded UXReactor in 2014 together with his brother, Prasad. Under his leadership, UXReactor has become the fastest growing specialized experience design firm in the USA, with a team of 60+ employees spread over three continents.

Before starting his entrepreneurial journey, Satyam served as Managing Director of Product Design at Citrix in San Francisco, where he played a crucial role in growing the product design team from four members to over 100+ practitioners.

Satyam was instrumental in building PayPal’s Global Design Center in India while leading a design team in Silicon Valley. We explore an in-depth conversation of modern UX, the myths of UI and UX, plus the first principles of design and its impact on usability and business success.

Check out the UXD Playbook here: https://uxdplaybook.com/

Find out more about UXReactor here: https://uxreactor.com

Transcription powered by HappyScribe

Hello, everybody. Welcome back. My name is Eric Wright. I’m the host of your DiscoPosse podcast. Thank you for listening and for watching. Of course, if you want to check out the video version of this and other amazing episodes, you can head on over to youtube.com/discopossepodcast. You can see them all as they happen, which is kind of fun. And thank you for all the people that are watching because we’re actually getting really good uptake on that side of the world. All right. This is Satyam Kantamneni. He is a fantastic, fantastic guest. He’s doing really interesting stuff with his team, UXReactor. He’s also the author of the soon to be released Uxdplaybook, which if you follow the links, go to Uxdplaybook.com. This is a must get so well put together. We have a fantastic conversation talking about his approach to user experience and real user experience. So we separate the myths of UI versus UX, the psychology that goes into creating user flow and experience in general. This can be done in software, in business, in physical spaces. It’s all over. So it’s a real pleasure to take the learnings and the research that Satyam is doing and bring it to this audience. You are going to enjoy this. I sure hope you do, because I came away with a real sort of feeling of being blessed after having gotten all these lessons.

And of course, speaking of reasons why we can have this incredible user experience, I’m so proud to say thank you to the fine folks at Veaam Software who are supporting this podcast and helping me to make sure we can bring more great conversations like the one we are about to listed with Satyam. If you want to learn about everything you need for your data protection needs, whether it’s in the cloud, whether it’s on premises, whether it’s physical servers, even those containerized crazy workloads. That’s right. Those containers, they go away and they’re gone. So you’ve got to be careful. You can actually back up because there are persistent container workloads. There are great reasons to back that stuff up. Hey, I could go on for hours about that, but I’m not going to because you’re going to go to vee.am/discoposse. And you’re going to check it out yourself because you need to do that much much more than what I just talked about.

Go check it out. Go to vee.am/discoposse. And thank you to the amazing people at Veeam Software. And if you want to toast somebody to your fantastic Veeam Protection, then drop it over to Diabolicalcoffee.com. Grab a pound of the fantastic beans. They’re devilishly good. And the diabolical asthma swag. All right, let’s get to the podcast.

I’m Satyam. I’m the co-founder and presently the managing partner at UXReactor. And today you’re listening to me at the Disco Posse podcast.

Satyam, thank you and welcome to this discussion. I really enjoy when we get to explore the topic and the practice of user experience. And as we chatted a bit in our pre discussion, preparing for this, it’s such a loaded phrase. There’s over marketing, overuse of the word. And I think this is a great chance for us to talk to you about UX Reactor, the basis behind your approach, the book, which I’ve been thankfully able to access a preview copy prior to publishing, which is fantastic. But for folks that are new to you, Satyam, if you don’t mind, give a quick introduction and a bio, and then we’ll start to talk about the UX Reactor story.

Absolutely, Eric. I think it always is useful to see. I have a very, I would say an eclectic background. I studied electronics engineering way back when I realized very quickly that I didn’t want to be a chip designer and needed more human aspects of work. I was serendipitously introduced to a professional at that point called human factors, how humans interact with complex technologies. And that became my line of work for the last two decades. So that’s kind of the highest level over time. I’ve studied engineering, I’ve studied design, I’ve studied business. So all three aspects of looking at how things come together. And fortunately, seven years back, I got to kind of spend a lot of time by building a firm, UXReactor, and looking at the intersection of all three of them, especially as the world is getting more tech savvy and more tech pervasive and businesses are kind of driving a lot more tech. But with a design mindset, obviously, Steve Jobs did an awesome acceleration to a lot of these things over the last two decades. So, yeah, I’m kind of right at the cusp of seeing this go through. And being in the Silicon Valley also helps me to kind of be very much plugged in with the tech Mecca that’s kind of it’s become at this point.

Yeah. The surroundings are certainly still despite the fact that we’ve seen sort of a depatriation of the real estate and folks moving to other parts, sort of broadening the locations that people can build from. There is still such a storied sense of history there and so much still active. Right. It’s always amazing to me. And I think the best thing, if you don’t mind, I’d love to just begin with, if you were to type it into Google, define user experience.

It’s often the most misunderstood word in the profession. If you really look at it, every system in the world has users for the system and users come in different contexts and every user has an experience. And the best definition I’ve found so far in my profession is any event or occurrence that leaves an impression is an experience. And therefore you need to kind of look at every event and occurrence that your system actually has. But now if you look at systems like hotels, they have studied this for a long while. Our hospitality, they’ve studied experience for a long while. And that’s why you’re paying a lot more for a red carton than a much more, smaller, cheaper option. But then in the tech world, where you’re starting to look at one of the biggest trends that’s going on as tech is becoming more front and center, is obviously dehumanizing to in a lot of ways, but also humanizing to a lot of ways. Right. So dehumanizing systems that you would call customer service. Now, you probably are talking to a conversational system, but again, it still has to work with a human on the other side.

So that’s why experiences are becoming much more important, especially as those events are becoming tech events, as those movements are becoming tech movements and memories are being created with tech. So you really need to kind of define experience on that end. And that is what is called user experience in the context of the tech world. But honestly, user experience, and the first thing I tell anyone is user experience is a mindset. And then how do you bring that mindset to tech is where I believe is the biggest opportunity. And if you really think about what Steve Jobs did, he did that. And that’s why today Apple is still the world’s most valuable company.

Yeah, it’s funny if we take that sort of Apple example, even within Apple, during and beyond the Steve Jobs era, we saw the introduction of Schemorphic, which was a word that no one needed. They realized they needed to know what it meant. And then on the tail end of that, the poo pooing of Schemorphic as so last year. Right. Like, we suddenly was like, oh, the natural wood texture on stuff. They’ve seen evolution. But the ethos behind the experience is always consistent. And I think that’s what’s interesting in looking at your own background as well. It’s the vision, the ethos. It’s the thing that you want to achieve. The way in which you achieve it may alter by technologies, by whether it’s visualized, whether it’s audible, whatever it is, but it’s ultimately it’s the practice that you’re creating.

Actually, let me kind of dig deep on the word practice there and also kind of sometimes add profession to it because a lot of times people don’t look at that as a skill, then more like a profession. And unfortunately, that’s kind of where a lot of business leaders kind of make the mistake. So I’ll kind of let me unpack that a bit there. When you look at the profession of user experience overall or the practice of user experience, there are different levels of how you can create value. The UI level, which is like, how does the screen look to me? How does it feel to me that’s kind of exactly towards like, Schemorphic style, hierarchy, color, fonts, all those things kind of come to be in that craft. However, when you start looking at it as a next level, you start looking at how does the whole product experience look like. So when you think about Apple, they look at an ecosystem experience. Right. So when you go from and anything, again, when you look at this is nowadays, Tesla has done this really well. They look at the whole ecosystem and they’re looking at the whole product as an ecosystem.

And that’s kind of the next level of how you’re thinking about the user’s experience. And then the third level, which is kind of the level which is much more organizational, where everybody and every element, right, from the lowest end organization, the highest organization, the newest organization, the oldest, whichever way you look at it, they all think about the user first. The users experience second, the design third, and then fourth, the technology. And that’s kind of when you start thinking about every facet of what the business is, that’s the last level and the most important frontier of user experience. And again, every time you think about the user and how this will make them feel that moment or that opportunity, that fundamentally is where value is created. I unfortunately see nine out of ten organizations spending their time in the UI side, and therefore, they only see value there and also make a lot of misteps there.

Yeah. This is the interesting. Like the misnomer, when people say user experience, they inevitably think you’re a front end developer. Like, no human computer interaction is not about which bloody JavaScript framework you’re writing your front end in or response you’re using.

Absolutely.

You look up the user experience as a phrase has been coopted by web designers building a single page app. And I have to be careful. So there is a truth that that in itself is a user experience, but that is so niche and so narrow above definition. And the use of the phrase that the same person that will do a fantastic single page app that will draw you through a journey that makes you get to the bottom to use a strong CTA and like you do all of the right things. That is not the same as somebody who like a Tesla, like an Apple, like an IBM, like a Microsoft, like a power company that wants you to do something like you and your clients experience, the user experience goes far beyond you getting to the bottom and clicking the button.

Absolutely. And I think that is obviously the right intent, because eventually that’s how they’re interacting with the system. But it takes a lot of deep understanding of why is the user there? What are they trying to do? What are the motivations? What is the context? The same way as you would design for a kindergartner an education platform is not the same way as you design it for a high schooler. Right. And there’s all those nuances and so much context is there. And that’s where the beauty of user experience is when you can unravel it.

The interesting thing is I like that you mentioned the idea of education built towards a preschooler or elementary school fundamentally different from somebody who’s college age or beyond or perhaps even an octogenarian, right. And it is funny because I noticed things that can seem wondrous to a 30 to 50 year old are instinctual and obvious to a child sometimes. And I always give this example of the simplest thing is you take a coin and you take the coin, and all you do is you make the coin disappear. To everybody else they look at your hand because you can force them to do this. But the first thing that a child does, I’ve got two young kids is they look at the hand that you took the coin. They know right away they know where it is. You can’t push them towards an experience. You can’t guide them because they instinctually have figured it out. But to the user of a system, it’s the same thing. It’s like you have to try and pull them towards something that they didn’t instinctively necessarily believe they needed.

I think there is a little bit of I have a different perspective there. Right. So there’s an ethical element of user experience that you are trying to give people what they need, however, give it to them the way they want it in the context that they are. And the last two parts is where the tricky part is. Right. Because again, in the profession, there’s an element of looking at trying. How do I get you to click on things? How do I get you to not do what I want to do? There’s a lot of dark patterns there. But there’s one aspect of that in the last two years, more or less. Right. So what you have seen is legal has now become a tech system. Right. You have education has become a tech system. You have seen health care becoming a tech system. You’re now talking to telehealth way more openly than three years back. And these are all things that again, giving it to like a kid who’s going to go telehealth kid who’s going to go into education. All of these things are actually now becoming much more where the systems are created without the user in the loop.

And actually, one thing, Eric, I’ll tell you, which is what’s fascinating, as I became a student of this profession, that till the 40% of the products that are shipped out there are shipped without talking to one user. Right. So they’re built out with that construct like let me ship it and they will start using it. And that is just a fascinating thing of how many millions of dollars are spent on building feature sets and building products that actually don’t work for the user. And that’s why you see a product market fit as a failure. I actually think that’s the fastest way of throwing money at something and hoping it will stick and it doesn’t happen.

Now, this brings up a good callback to a famous Steve Jobs saying whether it’s actual or misquoted is the idea that users don’t know what they need until you give it to them. And people hear that. And it’s such an out of context phrase because if you read the stories of product development and product management inside Apple, it was so wrapped into user interviews and continuous research with real users. What was the I forget what it’s called, the creative process, I think, or creative design, I can’t recall. I should look it up. There’s a great book that talks. It was like an early project manager who worked with Jobs and creative selection. I think that was the name of the book. And it’s such a fantastic journey through that. But all people are going to get take out of that is I’m going to create something because the user doesn’t know what they’re doing.

Because along with the Steve Jobs code, another quote that comes from Henry Ford and it also kind of muddies the water, which is like if I just ask users what they want, they’ve just told me about a faster horse. And this was in the context of building the Model T. In both of these contexts I think a lot of people, when they read that or listen to it, they don’t understand the underlying essence. You still have to understand that users and let’s say talk about the Henry Ford context, that users will still have to kind of take care of a horse. There was not a whole family that can sit on the same horse. There is you cannot go faster than a certain speed. There’s a lot of those elements that also are informing how you’re kind of a designing in that context. And those are still user problem the same way as when you look at Steve Jobs, you start looking at he was very in tune with who the users are that he’s building for that he actually what are the pain points for them and what is he trying to kind of build from?

Like, he knew that people were carrying multiple devices, one for music, one for camera, one for personal organization. And then he said, I’m going to bring all of that together. But however, they don’t know how that will look. Like the visioning is a different problem versus the need of the R. And I think a lot of times people confuse the visioning of going and talking to user what they actually need versus what the needs of the R are. And I actually think there are two different facets. And you should really be building a lot more deeper sense of the need of the R. And that only comes when you start observing users and are much more empathetic to the users of your system.

Yeah. And this is, you touched on it before, too. And I talked about even in the way I described it. Right. The idea of leading somebody towards something that you want them to do versus observing them and figuring out how to create a system in which it would naturally draw them to a path.

Absolutely.

And you used the word ethical and that we’ll talk a bit at length about that. I don’t want to get there just yet, because that’s a single thread that I really want to spend some time on. But it is interesting that when you observe behavior with the goal of building systems towards the end goal with continuous observation and feeding back to that loop, the ability to have both the patience and the capability to go through that, it’s got to be a unique perspective and a unique person that can do that.

To a large extent, yes. Again, if you care about it enough, you will spend the time studying it, learning about it, immersing yourself in it. Right. I mean, you can talk about building all the software for health care. I’ll give you an interesting anecdote here. This was early in my career. I was designing a system for breast biopsy system for the doctors. And as a young designer sitting in the office, I was like, yeah, this is how the doctor would use it. They would go and I was designing the thing where they actually were hitting the dials in the system so that they can get the right settings for the suction without going too much into the details of how the system works. But as I sat there, I assume that the doctor is hitting those dials and therefore this is how they will look at it. But when you go and observe and you immerse yourself and you see a couple of them, first of all, it’s hyper intimidating, very loud. And more importantly, the doctor is not doing it. The doctor’s focused on the biopsy itself. He’s giving the commands to the assistant who’s actually doing it, just observing how that subtlety works, how the user and the ecosystem work, then you realize, I just designed it for the wrong person.

The doctor would never touch it and it’s an assistant who’s touching it. So the commands have to be much more clear. And if semantics are important, if a doctor says Zoom in and then there’s no Zoom in button there, then the assistant is there’s a lot of those nuances that you really think about. And that just was my first one of my early lessons I learned where you started observing that you really have to immerse yourself. But if I was just sitting on the desk and doing it like most people would, then obviously it’s not going to work well, and then the doctor is not going to use it or they’re going to have more issues or more importantly, it’ll have some repercussions to the patient that we don’t really don’t want.

I guess if you think it’s actually a really good example too, because Ergonomics and physical environment is the sort of the OG of user experience. Right. We’re achieving this through software design and software user interfaces, but it used to be very physical. And I remember even hearing a good example was like in sport performance, somebody Lance Armstrong, love them or hate them, obviously, a well known cyclist, fantastic at time trialing. And so they did is they called them their F1 team. They were like fanatical designers, engineers that were building the best bicycle, and they were doing everything they could to shave every possible second off of a time trial. Because it’s 60 kilometer time trial will be one by 3 seconds. And that’s horrifying to imagine, like, how accurate you need to be and how differentiated do you have to try to be to achieve those 3 seconds? And so what they did, they said in the winds tunnel, the perfect bike design for this was going to be sort of narrowing the pedal width by millimeters. It was almost an insignificant difference. But over the course of a 1 hour time trial, it would take 5 seconds off of the time trial, which is the difference between winning and losing.

And when they put him out on the road with it, he came back and his time was worse. And they said, what happened? And he’s like, my hips are on fire. Because while engineering wise, it was the ideal design. He just physically did not work like it took away from the way that he can physically ride it. When you see the marriage of humans and engineering, you realize that it’s two fantastically different practices that are coming together.

Absolutely. And I think that’s the in the design world, we call it prototyping with the users. We can prototype as much as you want in the lab, but taking it to the users, letting them interact with it, letting them engage with it and then observing it and iterating on it. Absolutely. But again, these are all things that we have already figured out in the non-tech sector. Right. So prototyping has been a big part of architecture. They scale model everything before they actually build it has been a big thing. Industrial design, where they actually prototype and kind of use it. But then in the software world, for as much as we look at it, as I said, 40% of the products are shipped without even talking to one user or showing it to one user. And that’s kind of where I find that as it software is, it still is not behind the curve there.

Yeah. And often, too, even if they feel like they’ve been successful once, like they’ve gotten somebody to download and they see if the numbers are heading the right direction, if they’re going up into the right as far as adoption and retention, because it’s sort of a Schrodinger’s cat problem that would have gone better if we had spent more time with the user. We’re gaining an adoption. Our turn rate is low or reasonable. So how do you define successful but meanwhile both pre products and then post product that’s the other thing is that user experience is continuous. It’s not a thing you do once and say, okay, good, stamp it, mark it complete, it’s now in QA and continuous engineering.

Yeah. And I think you use a good term there. Continuous engineering, actually. I’m very inspired personally over the Kaisen philosophy of continuous improvement. And one thing I always say is if your users have problems, that means you haven’t done your, if any problem in the system. You haven’t done enough design or experience design until your users are in delight mode. And it’s actually interesting because once you get in the delight mode where they’re like someone thought about me or someone thought about my context, that smile that comes in in their face, that’s where you kind of end that phase. Now the irony of this is a year later that’s table stakes. Now you had to score in more delight. And that’s why it’s continuously because now just think about smartphones. Today, anyone who comes out with a smartphone without a touch screen interface, are they even actually viable? Absolutely not. Right. But then when Apple came out with the first touch screen with their construct, a very different anyone comes out with a smartphone without conversational AI – not stable stakes. But that’s where your delight has to continuously be evolving. And as tech becomes more and more powerful, you really have to queue in and what is that pain point? What is that opportunity? And that’s why continuously, every day you’d eat, sleep and drink that as a systems designer or a software systems designer, otherwise you will be left behind.

When did you know that this was a passion and that you had the ability to create a world around it?

I’ve been in this profession for 20 years. I enjoyed this, but I’ve never really knew why. And I think the last ten years is where I’ve started honing in and why. And the why is that when you really think about it, this is one profession that actually you can talk to users, understand the pain points, quickly come back prototype items and then go back to them, talk to them. And when you start realizing the power that has that you actually are as a profession, which is nothing less than when you really think about it as like an innovative. And that’s when you realize that everything can be thought through in that angle, any problem can be solved from this angle. And that’s kind of when I truly started realizing the power as I started growing in rank and like one small change here can make such a telescopic effect. So I would say the last ten years is when I started realizing more and more the power that this can unleash. Obviously a pivotal moment was going to business school and starting to understand more business problems from other peers because I went to an exec program.

But before that, I really enjoyed it, but never really understood why and what are the contours of that interest. But I would say the last ten years has been more so being very aware of it.

Now, this is an interesting point that you braised that I think is very important is the connection of the business outcome to the user experience. Only the measurability, because it is a very sort of touchy-feely type of idea. As we talk about sort of the practice of user experience that people believe it’s like, people will like it more. We use odd superlatives to describe it, but there is measurability in it. So tell me where that differentiates a true user experience designer from maybe somebody who’s involved in user experience, but just more specific and niche is part of the process.

As I mentioned earlier, you can do a lot of user experience on a UI level. Designing a screen, a form factor itself. But all you can design and use experience as an organizational aspect. Now, a good designer is thinking about how do I again, I’ll give you an interesting lesson I learned early on which would probably connect some of these dots. I was working in a company once, and I’m not kidding you. Every team I worked with said we are user centric. And it was a fascinating thing. I’m customer success, I talk to users. I’m user-centric. I am customer support. I talk to users, I’m user-eccentric. I am engineering, I’m building for users, I’m user-centric. I am marketing. So everybody had the frame of mind. You go and ask the user, how is this company for you? And they’re like, man, I talked to support. They will send me one place and they say, go talk to them. Products actually does one thing. And so from a user’s perspective, they were like, I hate what you guys are doing and I don’t like it. So when you look at it, it’s interesting, the intent is right, but the outcome is kind of not coming together there.

So when you start thinking about what a good designer bad experience designer, absolutely good designs are being done on the UI leve., but really bad design is being done on organizational level. So that’s kind of where you’re looking at. And obviously the impact of that, the more higher you go, the more value that you can unlock. But in the most basic sense, I think they’re coming back to something that you kind of started with, where’s the business sense? The UI level is obviously very touchy-feely. Like they feel right, they look right, they’re delighted, all that stuff. But if you really look at all businesses, all business stakeholders, they care about adoption, retention, satisfaction, efficiency, and these are all user efficiency and user engagement. And to get to that level, you really need to understand why the user gets it, doesn’t get it, what’s the context, who the user is. And then you kind of build those experiments and iterate on it. And that’s truly when you start and you can increase adoption, you can increase attention. So many times you make tweaks and e-commerce or transactional experiences, and then you start seeing them back, like just explaining something to someone gets them to sign up faster.

Just getting them to kind of talk to a community and building a community experience gets them to engage better. So these are all things that you need to know, what are the unmet needs? And then because of that engagement, there’s a higher attention, there’s higher adoption, there’s all these nuances that come to it, everything that you do. And that’s also why UX Reactor was founded, because I was just sick and tired personally, where design was becoming very much like a touchy-feely thing. And I said, no, design is a business driver. And I met and that was also the pivotal point for me was finishing our business school and talking to about 100 other business leaders from different contexts. And I could see that they had real business problems that I could solve. And that’s kind of what the genesis. And actually, I think anybody who says that as a practitioner, that designers touchy-feel, that means they don’t really understand the power. And unfortunately, that is still a profession that’s in adolescent. So therefore, there’s still a lot of that going on.

Yeah, I worked in finance and insurance and technology, like in tech support early on in the first part of my career. And it was trying to think it was like 2003, so early 2000s. And even like pre-1999 origin, I worked at Sunlight Financial, anybody who can look at my LinkedIn. So I’m not giving away secrets here. And I remember we were like moving from mainframe terminals to PC. So this is like Windows 31. The first change, adding a mouse to somebody’s life was like, good golly, I’ve never seen one of these things before. What is this? What do you do with it? It was literally that level of change in business process. And then we had this one team that I remember that always stood out to me. And they were the ones that had colored hair and tattoos, and they sat in the middle of the floor of our IT Department for some reason because we had all these printers and they were the design team, and they worked on the only Macintosh computers in the whole company. And they were these sort of odd group of folks in that they were different than the traditional suit wearing insurance folks. We’re still in a very corporate environment. However, the leader of the team was this fellow named Paul. And I learned so many lessons from him, that he could beautifully nurture the creative process that these young, just such interesting people could bring. And they were looking at, like, physical design and like brochures. And then it became email. They became what they did was pervasive to the way the company was portrayed. And then he was sort of like the dad of the group, but who also understood that what are the marketing numbers? What are the ways that we measure it? And that was my first understanding. I’m like, this was design experience versus just print. They weren’t a print shop. They were truly connecting like a textual experience, like tactile experience rather, to a business outcome. And it was like, oh, wow, I knew it was important. And as I saw over years that we moved into software design and software user experience and seeing it done right in some organizations, I was like, you knew that they got it and they understood the impact.

Absolutely. I think I’m a big believer of multidisciplinary thinking. And when you connect the dots, it actually is much more effective. Yeah, absolutely. I think the only thing when you said that that’s one reaction I see is like the creative kind. And yes, absolutely. There are a lot of people that are different and in the creative pursuit and so on and so forth. But it’s actually more of a mindset. And it’s a mindset that I personally advocate that a lot of people can get into, especially now that we all are equally, all the tools and systems and methods are available. It’s much easier to become an engineer if you want to watch YouTube videos and learn in the same way. Much easier to learn design and appreciate design. There’s just so much opportunities to kind of become a student of a lot of different systems. But yeah, I think design is kind of coming in. Most organizations in the Valley, as well as most tech companies, have some investment in design. What kind and where they are and how mature is a different question, but they have some investment. Just to give you one quick story, there is I started my career also in early 2000s, and my title still was User experience at that point with User Experience specialist.

And I had a scrum manager ask me like, oh, so what do you do? And I said, I’m a user experience specialist. I said, okay, what do you code in? I said, I don’t code in anything. And then he’s like, oh, so you just get paid to do boxes and arrows? And I was like, I get paid to do boxes and arrows. But that’s exactly fascinating. But then again, not in any real intention, but just how his understanding was. How can you build your experience without this? But over time, I still kept in touch with that master. And it’s fascinating. I mean, how much the profession has evolved.

If you think of those days. I mean, I remember coming through doing some work in telecom, in schooling, and I went to University, like took some part time courses, and it was all about information technology management. And they were teaching us about legacy telecom technologies that were like decades old. And that was at that time the beginning of what I started to see HCI – like human computer interaction, was beginning to become a subset of computer science. But only a handful of people moved towards it versus today. I would imagine that it’s actually probably core competency and core curriculum, I think, for computer science. So we’ve seen it, be understood the importance and the impact that it can have.

I think absolutely. I think just look at it. Right? I mean, what was that saying? That we have more computing power on our body than the space shuttle that went to moon? And that just is fascinating. I mean, the amount of tech that we have around us, the amount of systems we are interacting with, and if you do not think about the human in the loop and build that around that, then it just is an opportunity lost. And again, with the curve, there will be a lot of people adopted because it solves a problem. And just the same way as I would say before FaceTime and Apple brought FaceTime. And yeah, you could talk to person to person if you knew the IP, and then you kind of plug it in and then you do a thing and maybe kind of figure out the firewalls and all that stuff. But today it’s just like I click on a person’s face and I call them, and then I’m talking to them, and that just is the nature of how technology has evolved. And do they really care about what IP and which country and which location?

And they don’t because the systems take care of it and the human just wants it to work that way. But again, it works with an iPhone. But when I go into my home, it’s kind of a different context. So there’s a lot of those still, as technology is becoming pervasive, I just believe that there will be more opportunities for us to really think about human in the loop across systems.

And I think what we learn is that through those first iterations, just like with Teleconferencing, right. It was like you’d have a Polycom system in one office and a Polycom system in another office. And some poor bugger in the networking team is trying to set up sip trunking and point to point peering and all this really difficult technology to make one meeting happen. And there’s a bunch of people staring at the back of an It guy in one room and staring at the back of an It guy in another room. And then eventually the TV’s light up and it’s all right. Now we can begin and it’s wondrous versus now the natural expectation is I should just be able to walk up and click the button. And then I’m talking to Tokyo. Absolutely. Underneath it all the same, technology exists, right? But we took what was that problematic experience and we’ve gotten through it and we’ve automated and systematized it, which is, I think, where the advantage comes in. And also, like you said, it’s about iteration. It’s about listening, finding the customer problem, and seeing where just in the same way that any design business design, like lean practices, which ultimately came from the work of Toyota and Kaizen.

I read Eli Gold Rat and this idea of the theory of constraints and how this comes as far as flow. Well, experience flow is similar, right? Like find the bottleneck, subjugate the bottleneck, eliminate it, and then look for the next bottleneck and continue to do so until you have flow.

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s more science than art overall. And that’s why I say I’ve seen a lot more correlation with engineering, with creativity, which actually is one thing that because if you look at it, let’s talk about creativity and movie making. Right. If you talk to cinematographer and you kind of understand how they kind of compose the picture, it’s a lot of mathematics, it’s a lot of angles, it’s a lot of equations around light and camera angles and so on and so forth. But no one talks about it that way. You still have to equally be appreciative the same way as dancing, as so much math, steps counts, and all those things that you have to really think about a lot of nuances and designs are very similar. Design is very similar. In fact, I write in the book too about this, which is that a lot of times people pick up when you say design inspiration, it’s always looking for somebody who’s a designer in the craft sense. But I actually think that one of the best designers in the world was often not discussed in the modern context is Da Vinci. And because you think about him, he understands biology as well as he understands engineering as well as art.

And he’s good things to show in each one of them. And perfect. And if you can look back again talking about Steve Jobs or anyone, the construct of being a polymath, construct of looking at how things connect, that’s kind of where the magic is. And then you kind of apply that aspect of the flow and kind of looking at every aspect and every problem and then unlocking it. There’s just so many ways that you can make that magic happen.

And that is Da Vinci is such an incredible example of that. Like as both a creative mind and as an artist, a very literal artist, and what he could create, we could paint and his drawings, but his engineering. And when you look at the stuff that’s not the most popular works that we all know, you realize, like how many thousands of engineering drawings that he has. And this was pre-computer. This is very rudimentary tools that were given to him to do this. And he was creating something fantastic. On the Jobs thing too, it’s funny. There’s this weird thing that people often do is they say, oh, he wasn’t actually an engineer, but he understood the engineering aspect. He understood the technology, he understood the business, he understood the human behavior. And that may have been his strongest focus area. But he wasn’t just a marketing guy that made Apple big because he was really a marketing guy. It’s unfortunate that we kind of try and dumb it down to just like labeling somebody as they do this thus. That’s what they did.

I think it’s a really good thing to unpack. Right. And we say this at the firm of UX Reactor a lot. We say this always start with the user, understand the experience, then design it for them, and then look at the technology. And if you look at how Steve Jobs thought through it, he knew who the user was. He knew what experience he wanted to give them, and that’s kind of the whole thing. When he created the first Apple Store, he perfected it in a warehouse. He looked at every angle, how lights was formed, what the material surface was. He thought about that experience he wanted to give when people walked into the store. Then he thought about the design of all the nuances. And then he goes to engineering and says, I want this. Make it happen. Right. And obviously, engineering is when you have that level of a funnel of thinking, you are always holding engineering accountable for a very different aspect, which is like, I want to give the best experience for the user, and this design is going to look this way. Now, do you need to be the best engineer in the room?

Probably not. Do you need to be the best marketing person? He was a great storyteller. He could bring it down to the world. And I think that is often something that’s not told as much. Now you put it in the marketing hat. Absolutely not. He knew what users care about, and he would tell that well. But the fact is there was a lot of scientific approach. And his process of as you kind of earlier shared this, that aspect is kind of very valid. Now, what’s also interesting is Elon Musk calls himself the chief designer at SpaceX.

Yeah.

And it’s fascinating how he picked that title out. I know many people there’s a lot to read on that line. He’s the best technically the best person in space. I know there are so many other people there’s technically the best engineer on that system. Probably not. But the way he thinks about, again, what’s the vision for the system that he’s building and then percolate down and then get everything done, which is why the designer word, and I call it big d-thinking, big design thinking and not the small craft thinking. And that’s kind of where these people always played.

The Musk example is very interesting, too, because people have trouble trying to fit him into what he does. He’s incredibly technical, he’s incredibly intelligent, so much so that it’s challenging to have discussions with him because he’s thinking at a different level as a great interview experience. I watched and it’s actually tough to watch sometimes these ones Lex Friedman, who’s MIT robotics professor and designer and doing some very interesting stuff. And he’s a great podcast, talk some really amazing people. And Elon on and he talked about how do you think about where it can go wrong? What is it that you do in designing for failure, that if maybe it won’t work, that we aren’t going to get to Mars? Something that was the premise of the question. And it was the most fantastic thing to watch as an interview, because Musk just turned and you could see his eyes were like they’re darting back and forth. He’s formulating it. And the fact that Friedman gave just said, don’t say a word, didn’t cut them off, didn’t try and fill it. It felt like 30 seconds. It was probably ten. But that’s an eternity. When you’re watching an interview, you’re like, is the microphone still on?

You’re literally like, you’re not sure if they’re still on. And he’s like, well, we don’t think about that because there is no option. Failure is not something that we designed for. And he began this, but the fact that he went through and he was looking for the correct answer, not the fastest answer that would sound good on microphone. And it’s a very unique thing. Now he’s a Polarizing figure. Obviously, it’s a challenge to have a conversation about what’s good or bad about Elon Musk’s with a lot of folks. Actually, here’s another one. I bring this up because we did talk about this. You may know this text and this professor. Well, yes, which is why I said I wanted to wait until we got into ethics. I’m a student myself of stuff that BJ Fogg has brought to the world. But before we understood the impact, and now that we do understand the impact and he himself has almost had to kind of put a label warning on his own work because he sort of understands how much he empowered people to take it and do things that were not healthy or potentially not ethical with it.

Let’s talk about ethics of design.

No, it’s interesting. On a side note, actually, my master’s thesis was either studying persuasive technology, which is obviously at that point, or was human robotic interaction. I decided to take human robotic interaction. But I’ve actually been a student of persuasion, how systems like that can be built right if done right, obviously. I mean, because design the way to it just the same way as you kind of showed the coin trick. There’s a lot of illusion to design. There’s a lot of ways that we can get people to do what they want to do and how they want to get them to. If you’re getting them to do it for the right thing, obviously it is what the user intended to and where they got to. I think that’s all ethical when you want them to get to things that you intend to, but not them, probably. And that’s kind of where it gets into the other side. There’s so much that’s gone with the advent of technology. We have just seen a lot of other social aspects of it. Much deeper topic much. But personally, for me, I’ve always tiered here, at least as a firm.

We always said that we want to solve life problems, not lifestyle problems. And there’s still so much more opportunity. But on the highest level. I mean, I’d rather get a student to study better on a doctor to kind of be effective more or financial transactions to happen faster than actually trying to get you to do something or buy something that I don’t that is not right for you or anywhere. There’s a lot of other aspects to that. But the power of design is very much there for us to do anything we want. You’ve seen that over the last four or five years where triggering of polarizing news can get more engagement, getting you to click on a fake queue can get you more clicks. Again, it’s easy to do that because I control the environment that you’re in, and therefore I can manage that. But at the same time, I must say what some of the firms are now doing as a stand to kind of give more power to the consumer and power to them. I actually feel that there is more corporate responsibility that’s coming in. But overall, I just think there is a larger system that people need to realize that technology is getting more powerful and tools that are available are getting much more powerful. And we just need to know that we have to be aware of it.

Yeah. And I’ve applauded the work really, of Tristan Harris and the center for Human Technology and sort of that group that’s wrapped around it. And there are so many people that have really come to the fore who were ultimately all students of Fog and those practices. And I think that’s a good thing. In the same way that if we look at what Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky did in winning a Nobel Prize for economics as behavioral psychologists, that in the same way you talk about design, that it’s matching the business to the human experience and measuring it, that we’re going to use a lot more science to describe the art than the art. And that’s pre Kahneman and Tversky, all we thought was that this was art, that this was anecdotal information. And we were lucky more than right on describing what was happening. And when we took and we put science and data behind it, all of a sudden you can really understand what was going on in that behavior. And I truly like, that user experience is ultimately behavioral understanding, right?

Absolutely. Because I think users have intent, and intent kind of reflects in behavior. Users have trained behavior. So there’s a lot of those elements that you kind of do that. So it’s truly a cusp of that’s why I say you have to be a psychologist, you have to be a student of cultures. As an anthropologist, you need to look at be a technologist, you need to understand. So there’s so many aspects that you bring together to make that magic happen. But, yeah, it’s a powerful system that many companies and I see a lot more companies becoming much more aware of it. It’s just that they don’t get it right because they go in with one quick solution and so on, so forth. But it is a big mindset shift. But once it’s done and people understand that there’s a whole science behind it and a structure behind it, there’s a lot of opportunity.

Yeah. And it’s an interesting mix of, like you said, such a multidisciplinary thing. And even like, marketing campaigns are very much wrapped around creating an experience. And so the words we use, they’re so simple when you get them. But the work to get there. So that really can bring up the question of who was the reason why the first Apple really went to high output? Was it Chia Day because they were the marketing agency behind it? Was it the team that fed them the right data to give them that campaign? There were so many players. But in the end, internally, especially as an organization, when you’re creating a software centric business, user experience design is now fundamental. And this is not something that you can go on to Upwork and Fiverr and find. Absolutely.

I think you can get a lot of people on Fiverr. I think before we start this conversation, anybody with a computer and Internet can be a user experience designer. But to become a really good one in that it takes a lifetime and you still learn. And the technology, as I said, you kind of really broaden up and then also build the depth. And it’s more importantly, I think, something that you called out, which I want to kind of further elaborate on. It’s a very collaborative profession, and it’s not necessary that the most creative person is somebody with a designer title. It’s actually the system of bringing people together, ideating, building it,  iterating on it. It is a collective process, and it’s one of those professions where literally two plus two is not edited. It’s multiplicative in a lot of ways. So therefore, it’s actually a fascinating thing. And I’ve seen so many people who go through a design process, they’re like, man, this is so fun. And I’m like, absolutely, it should be fun because you’re getting your creative juices, you’re trying out a lot of things, and you’re doing it with a larger group of people. And then when you build a structure around it. It kind of gets much more engaging.

Let’s talk about the bringing this to the market as a playbook now. So the user experience design is a practical playbook to fuel business growth. Fantastic introduction to what people can do. And it is such a well laid out, full, true experience in the playbook. Everywhere I went, it made sense. So I can imagine the work that went into creating this has had to have been a lot of hours, a lot of iteration, and a lot of design. But first of all, it’s beautifully done, just visually. And the reading of it, it’s like they say about user experience, when user experience is really great, no one notices. When it’s not great, it’s immediately obvious.

Absolutely.

So talk about the book and what drew you to put the time towards this? And I’m going to tell people, get the bloody book is fantastic.

To be honest, the book was never an intent on our end. It all started with I really was about eight years back, I was fairly frustrated in my career because I had spent close to that point about a decade trying to build that user centricity in organizations and teams that I’ve worked on and felt that my career was fairly mediocre. I didn’t have much to show. I had a lot of effort, a lot of activity, and I was just concerned at the same time, you look at the apples, the Airbnb, the Zappos, and all the folks that have actually been able to unravel and deliver much more impact to user centric practices. And I said, I really need to go back and look at it. And I said, either I keep to this profession, in which case let’s go back and understand and study why some companies are able to get there and why some companies are not able to get there. And that became my pursuit for a large level and to do that UXReactor as a firm was created and with my brother, who’s also the co founder and also the very good researcher and this line of work.

And through that last seven years that the company existed, we ran a lot of experiments. We worked with a lot of companies. We kind of understood what are the key things that make it work. And then we finally came down to what was in our we call it the BVD system to drive business value by design. There are four key aspects that need to be thought through, which is the right people in the right process, following the right process with the right mindset in the right environment. And that is what makes a good company in this process of being user centric versus a great company. And what we then started realizing is that we would get questions that a lot of our stakeholders would ask, like, how do I build a team? What’s the structure that goes into it, how do I build a carrier for them? How do I build a roadmap around a user that I care about? There’s a lot of these things that started coming up and we’re like, man, we need to probably write something about it because there’s so much more need. Nine out of ten companies don’t follow any of this structure, though they intend to.

And so we said, let’s write it down and put it out in the public domain. And that’s when the book came to be. And it was also one of the pandemic babies in the pandemic. We just saw every company going tech first, digital first, and then struggling. Right. And education is a classic example. Like just throwing tech on it doesn’t help because what ends up on the user’s side is they have half a dozen to a dozen systems to interact with, one for assessment, one for instruction, one for textbooks. And then that student is having to deal with uncomplicating it, and then experience is the best way to kind of navigate through that and you realize that’s not happening. So the book kind of ended up there. And then we said we wanted to create it with an intent to be a playbook where people from a different perspective business leaders, design leaders, practitioners, collaborators, everybody could take away something from it as a play and then use it immediately. So that’s how the whole construct came to be. And then we took a lot of our tribal common knowledge that we had within our own playbook at the organization and then put that out there.

So that’s kind of how the book ended up becoming a book. And so far as we’ve gone through our own process of iterating and testing with different users who we actually want to leverage, that we hope would leverage this book. And so far, we have only heard great things. And that’s all we are traded on it, and we kind of built on it as soon as it publishes. I’m looking forward to kind of getting the reaction and getting out there. I believe it’s sometime early May.

This is the thing that we see often, right? Is that going I think of Gene Kim and the team that worked with them on the Phoenix project and ultimately the DevOps handbook. The industry may still misuse the phrase DevOps. I see people all the time. They’re like DevOps engineer too, right? Like, that’s their title by HR, and it’s not really related to what they’re doing. In the same way that user experience design will get co opted and misused as a phrase, some poor person out there is labeled user experience designer three. You know, like they’re going to get ranked according to some HR band. But the work that went in the research, the patience that’s required to live the experience and then to take that same patience to bring it to the community through a written work. I loved how that played out in what you and everybody at UX Reactor have done. And like I said, this is the proof in even what I’ve seen. When you tell me it’s still in draft form, I figured it was going to come to be in basically word format like this. If this is draft, then I’ve never written a draft this good in my life.

It’s very well done.

Again, good to great concentration, and I think it’s good right now. And I think we are still trying to make it great, but that’s a perpetual I said we will keep evolving it. We will still have ideas. But more importantly, I think it’s a good resource that we have pulled together from our own experience and roughly everybody. It’s a collective effort. And I hope that even if one company gets to drive this success and that’s kind of the way we are looking at it. And that’s the reason why we want to make sure that more and more people are aware it’s just one of those professions in adolescence and we wanted to mature fast and then start delivering value fast in a way that most users actually. And again, think about it, we have so many interfaces we’re interacting with, and it should be much more easier. I think I have a vision in a decade from now, there will be so much technology, but they should be a simpler way of how we approach it. And you don’t have to go to like, again, I see all these tech companies going through certification programs, training programs.

I’m like professional services. I mean, your system, if it has to be explained, that means it’s not been designed well. Your system needs to be certified on for someone to use on. That means that you haven’t spent the time perfecting it. And it’s just one of those things that I say that and then also because the last two decades has been much more web centric, mobile centric all that is what’s going to come and play in the next decade. So it’s actually a fascinating time altogether.

It is. It is a really wondrous time with the opportunity. Obviously counterbalanced with what we talked about was sort of the ethics and the risks that we do present. But I’d say the dominant work that’s happening is so positive and so just doing great things. What we can do to bring these technologies and these platforms and these opportunities to other parts of the world as well that are underrepresented. And this one I want to tap on before we finish up Satyam is cultural representation in user experience design because I fall victim to this all the time. Right. I typically speak to a dominantly North American market, and so you can use a cadence of speech that’s specific. You can use everything. Platform design, referring to stories. I can talk about a New York Bank or a West Coast health company. It’s almost ingrained into me. It’s all sort of a coded bias of speech pattern and experience design. But then when I speak to audiences that are in the UK, I know to refer to Barclays instead of bank of New York, Maryland. And I know to refer to Santander and to think about the NIH instead of Medicare.

Like, I’ve learned those things. When it comes to user experience design, how do you deal with geo experience locality?

It’s that inbuilt curiosity in a lot of ways and that’s kind of what you tap into. It is a global profession. So if I’m trying to build something for, let’s say Sapsahar in Africa, you either have to go and observe and be immersed in it like one like them, or you kind of go and talk to people there or you kind of find someone who’s kind of much more aware of that. Again, it’s a user research is such a critical facet that how do you understand those aspects or you do all of it and triangle. It’s no different from again, good user research is no different from an awesome intelligence analyst in the military or a financial analyst because you’re connecting dots, you’re kind of connecting this is what this person thinks in this context. This is what it is. And then you kind of build your hypothesis and build your experiments around that. And that’s the scientific part of building experiences. But first of all, being aware that a SubSaharan African student studying is different from the inner city student versus somebody has high end in an expensive neighborhood, because even the subtleties of getting internet set up or even the devices that are around you, all those things can become different contexts and situations.

But again, just being aware that the world is different around you and you are curious to see how they are different, well, itself open up so much opportunity and a lot of times people just go in and I assuming that what you think is the right thing. And I’ll end this with actually an interesting story with my professor when I was in grad school and he finished a class and then I went to him and I said, that just seems like common sense. And he said, absolutely it is common sense. But remember what’s common for you is not common for somebody who’s in the other part of the world or your grandmother. And that is what who we are. We are understanding what common sense is. And that’s actually a fascinating thing that stayed with me all through. And that’s why I’m always looking for what’s common sense. And when somebody thinks it’s common sense, that means I’ve given to them what they want in the context that they wanted.

That’s a perfect way to round it up and leave the assumptions at the door because it is a beautiful and sad to me, your approach is really great and I’ve learned a ton from you. I’ve definitely learned like just even when I’ve had a chance to read through the book. It’s going to be great so I’ll make sure to get this out. Hopefully not too long from the time that people are watching this and listening to it they’ll be able to get so I’ll have links and make sure to share it out. If people do want to get connected to you Satyam what’s the best way to do that?

Linkedin is the best way to connect on there’s also we’re going to create a small community for the playbook I believe. Uxdplaybook.com it’s going to launch around the same time on the book launches so again there’ll be different ways to connect. I really want to kind of be as available and approachable as possible as people are in this journey but yeah I think LinkedIn is a good way if they also can reach out through the company uxreactor.com so there’s different ways to get there. I’m pretty sure if someone wants to truly get to me I’m sure they will find a way but the easiest way is to get on LinkedIn and just send me a note.

There you go folks to follow the links down below because I make sure I have them in the show notes and of course on the YouTube channel this has been really great Satyam. It’s been a real pleasure and I look forward to success for you with the book and with UX reactor and hopefully we’ll get a chance to catch up again in future and here on the other side once it’s out in the world, how the community building around it because that is an interesting aspect that I’d actually like to explore again in future. So thank you very, very much.

Absolutely. Thank you so much, Eric. I appreciate it and have a great rest of the day.

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Have you ever looked at LinkedIn & said “What the heck are people doing here? How can I make LinkedIn work for me?”. Troy Hipolito is someone who has asked, and can answer that question. Troy is a LinkedIn Influencer, brand specialist, and has a very diverse background that we discuss in depth during a dynamic and enjoyable conversation.

If you need to manage your LinkedIn efforts & drive appointments, or support your LinkedIn Events & even run your own revenue-generating system – then you should talk to Troy.

Connect with Troy on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/troyhipolito/ 

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Welcome back, everybody. My name is Eric Wright. I’m the host of your Disco Posse podcast. Thank you for listening. Thank you for watching. If you want to watch, you can actually legitimately watch it’s over at youtube.com/discopossepodcast. Thanks to all the amazing people who are making this podcast possible and growing, growing like crazy. So super proud, having a lot of fun. Hope you’re enjoying the show as much as I am and all of our amazing guests. Speaking amazing guests, you’re about to meet Troy Hipolito. He’s the not so boring LinkedIn guy, but it’s actually a lot more than that. Troy is the founder of the Troy Agency. He’s got a really storied history in helping people with social promotion. But it’s not just about social promotion. He thinks big, and he takes that and applies it to social promotion. His agency style work and understanding of how to help people is really coming together beautifully. So it was a lot of fun. Troy actually was in the midst of a move, and he was kind enough to schedule something. This was one of those fun outreaches that he did a cold outreach to me on LinkedIn, and I actually liked it, and we got connected.

He was super fun. So I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. And talk about not so boring. Let’s head on over and remember the not so boring and fantastic people that make this podcast happen. So shout out to my sponsors, who all right, we got some announcements coming up very soon, so hang on to your hats. But in the meantime, go to vee.am/discoposse to get everything you need for your data protection needs, whether it’s on premises, whether it’s in the cloud, whether it’s bare metal. Metal, yeah. You got mail servers. You got to back those things up. You’ve got to back everything up. How about stuff like SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Office 365? There’s much more. So again, just head on over to vee.am/discoposse, find out and let them know old Disco sent you over there. Speaking of going over there and doing it safely, protect your data in traffic, in transit, in every form. Head on over to tryexpressvpn.com/discoposse. I’m a user. I’m a fan because hey, I travel around, I move around, I’m on other people’s sketchy WiFi. It’s not sketchy because I use a VPN. So go check it out. Hey, even better than avoiding coffee shop WiFi, get your own coffee. Go to Diabolicalcoffee.com. All right, let’s get to the fun part. This is Troy Hipolito, the not so boring LinkedIn guy on the Disco Posse podcast.

Hey, this is Troy Hipolito. I’m with the Troy Agency. I’m known as the Not So Boring LinkedIn Guy. And you’re watching the Disco Posse podcast.

I loved your tagline, the Not So Boring LinkedIn Guy. And thank you, Troy, for jumping on today and for reaching out, getting connected. I’m a real fan of your content, your approach, your style, and it’s something that I even myself, I think. Good golly. There’s so many things I’m under utilizing around LinkedIn, around a lot of social network. You’ve really, really got some great stuff that you’re coaching people through and bringing them towards really strong outcomes. So for folks that are brand new to you, do not yet know about Troy Hipolito, you want to give a quick introduction and a bio and we’ll talk about what you and the team are doing.

Oh, yeah, I’ll even do one better and tell you the story behind it. So I am a designer and developer by trade, right. So I’m a programmer as well as a UI/UX person. And I was actually an award winning designer here in Atlanta, Georgia, several years in a row, like the top designer. And so back in the day, I had a company called ISO Interactive, and we were building video games. It was like the Rockstar programming. We’re doing virtual worlds, we’re doing app development, back end, front end. And it was really cool. We had a small team, about a dozen people. We paired up a designer with a programmer, and we created stuff that didn’t exist. We loved it. Right. So it was going really well until it wasn’t.

Oh, no.

In Atlanta, Georgia, they no longer depend on the agencies because the companies that you get work are the Fortune 500. They’re very corporate. And so they use agencies up to a certain point, and they pretty much cut a lot of that work off. And the agency started fighting each other. So I was thinking, I got all this great work. I did CocaCola stuff. I did Xbox Mobile, did Harry Potter movie releases. We even had our own Harry Potter fan site that we developed a full 3D, pseudo 3D virtual world using multi-user technologies. And it was just like, why can’t we get any work? Well, the agencies grab a lot of these people and brought them in house and really cannibalize the whole agency model. And so they were really fighting over pennies. We had to find another source of getting work. And so I asked a buddy of mine, he was actually doing well, and he had a competing agency, and he was putting all his work through LinkedIn. I was like, LinkedIn, you’re getting all your work through LinkedIn? He says, yeah. And then I had a sales buddy of mine in New Jersey, and he said, yeah, it’s LinkedIn, man.

It’s LinkedIn. I thought LinkedIn was a bunch of stuff for resumes. And they said, no, you have to build a relationship and all this other stuff. And I realized something. Those relationships were like, analogous to old-fashioned dating. And again, I realized I was a terrible dater, like in real life. So I have type A personality traits because I’m very technical, right? And what I and other people were doing and what a lot of people do nowadays still is they date wrong. They go in there. It’s like me saying this beautiful woman and walking up to her saying, I find you very beautiful. I’m going to have two babies with you right now. It doesn’t work you end up getting slapped in the face. And that’s the technical equivalent of what people are doing on LinkedIn. And so we had to revamp it. It worked really well, and we had a bunch of clients, and then we fired those clients and we rebranded our agency. And people asked, Troy, why did you fire all these clients? I said, Because they weren’t the right type of client. They just wanted to sell. And so my type of clients that I hire on the higher end, the high end type of clients, we look for people that offer value like they’re human.

So if you reach out to them, they’re there to help that person, they’re there to engage, and their audience exists in an active forum on LinkedIn. And so that’s a very narrow band of people that are authentic. They’re willing to kind of contribute some time to help those individuals. I said, yeah, I need to find like-minded people. And that’s when we changed from return client to the Troy Agency. So we only pick up maybe one or two primary clients a month, and it’s residual, works out fine. On the other end, we have course materials, and we have our own show, a monthly show that covers that type of revenue stream as well. So it works great as long as you have something that someone wants and you’re there to help them, don’t sell. If you help them solve their problem, there’s really only one of three things can happen. So I’ll take a 15 minutes meeting. They said, Troy, I’m doing this, and this. I’m having this issue. I help them solve the problem on LinkedIn. I said, this is the thing that you need to do to solve that immediate issue. And there’s one of three things that come out of that.

You put out good energy in the universe. They’ll never talk bad about you. Number two, it works so well that they’re into their business and they realize there’s 23 other things that only Troy can fix, and they hire me. And the third is they’re so happy they can’t afford what I have going on. But they like me. They like me enough to send a recommendation. And being recommended by someone else is ten times easier than you tooting your own horn. So it’s all about being human and doing what you say and helping those people get where they need to go, that’s my story. Little long version anyway.

No, it’s perfect. And a lot of folks that are listening to us obviously have a LinkedIn profile. I say obviously. Many folks would have a LinkedIn profile and they use it for a variety of purposes. And look, my dms are littered with these people that just don’t get it. I sort of say this is the common interaction is, hey, I see we have some common interests and like, all right, I’ll bite – accept, right. Because I also use it as a broadcast channel. Right. So I’m ultimately, all my content is going pushing to LinkedIn. I’m not really using it interactively as much as some people would think. And then the next one is, hey, thanks for connecting. Really great. Like what you’re doing with X or interested to connect and chat more. And then 4 hours later is hey, so what do you do about blah, blah, blah. And they immediately are pitching a product to me. And then the next day it’s like bumping the top of inbox just in case you didn’t see this then it’s not sure if you’re getting my messages. And then eventually like seven messages later you get the hey, I know you’re probably busy or you’ve been eaten by a bear or like there’s some kind of witty thing that they read worked once and so they just reused the same meme. And I’m like, no, this is not the way to use this platform.

You know what that’s called? It’s spam. They’re spamming, that’s what it is. I had to release a client because he wanted to spam people. She says, I always want to help people that need help right now and send this one message to everyone and keep on sending it to them. I said spam. Why is spam? I said, that’s the definition of spam. I was telling me that is what spam is. You want to communicate. And so that communication element is important. So what you’re talking about is seven or eight touch points that people think. They’re thinking, well, I have to get between 12 and 14 touch points before they connect with me. But they’re not connecting the dots. So that doesn’t mean people on sending them messages on your LinkedIn dm, it means how can you connect with them in a more authentic way? It’s okay to send one or two messages, I think. But I don’t like the selling portion. I do like the idea of getting to know that person for a particular reason. And so you want to do things with strategy. So a lot of people will use these systems and they’ll just bombard it and automate it and that sort of thing.

And LinkedIn, they’ll crack down on it, you get enough complaints, shut your account down. And so you have to have good habits. One of the things is like how can I come across authentic? The other thing is that how can I have them come to me? How do I separate myself from every other LinkedIn guy out there or in your business as well. Whatever you do, how do you separate yourself where if there is interest, they acknowledge that and they come to you. So you want two way traffic. And one thing that I do, what I don’t do is I don’t do sequencing on LinkedIn. I will have a witty connection message, and I’ll have maybe one follow up. But the follow up is usually a welcome message, and it’s unique to that individual. Right. I have a daily process, so when I pick on a client, I help them with the profile top to bottom, help them with targeting, help them with their initial messaging, and I help them with the day to day process. And that day to day process is really what’s going to keep you sane. Like, oh, I can be on LinkedIn 12 hours a day. You don’t want to do that. That’s insane. You want to spend between 15 minutes and 1 hour a day to do whatever the things that you need and get out because you have a business to run. And someone says, well, how can I get people to actually book a meeting with me? I said, that’s easy. I can easily get between 30 and 50 meetings a week if I wanted to. I don’t know. I think my camera is getting a little blurry. I don’t know what’s going on here. I think it’s the lighting.

Yeah. It’s the joy for folks that don’t understand. Poor Troy just moved, and we’ve made them do podcasts in the middle of a move.

I just moved in. It was like 80% of my stuff got wires and stuff in there. So it’s like the living room of the stuff.

There you go. That was funny. As soon as you move back in, it refocused.

Yeah. So if you get a process down. I said, well, give me a tip, right? I said, okay, how are you authentic? You’re authentic by understanding who you’re speaking to and creating some bit of information about them specifically. It’s not selling. So when you connect with someone instead of spamming them, why don’t you just use your LinkedIn app and open it up to the video option and you can send a native video to them. That’s what, 20 seconds long, maybe 30 at the most, and just thank them for connecting. Thanks, Eric. I really appreciate the connection. And I noticed that you have an interesting podcast called DiscoPosse Podcast, kind of tongue tied there, and I’d love to learn more about it. I said, if you have a moment, just take a look at my profile. I said, if you see any dots to connect, feel free to send me your booking link. I said, I’ll schedule some time with you. Thank you very much. Have a great day. That does a few things. That’s a unique message. You took the time to address them and what they do. You were not selling. And it’s appropriate time for them to look at your profile.

And if they see anything they want to talk about, the onus is on them. Send you the booking link and you’ll schedule with them. So it’s not me, me, it’s you. And so that concept and smiling and of course I didn’t smile. I did it quite quickly. But that idea is very powerful. You are communicating with them as a human would. And that’s just one of many of the tips and tricks. And I think the other thing we were mentioning was all the touch points. Well, there’s all these different things you can do depending on your strategy. Why are you connecting with people, you know? Are you connecting with them to engage with their network? Are you connecting them to sell them something, which is probably not a good thing. What do you have to offer them? How can you help that individual? You have to get down to the human level. So people think, well, I think I’m going to do this thing for their company. I’m going to do it for the team. That person doesn’t care. I mean, they may care, but they don’t really care. They care about themselves. We’re human.

So deep down inside, you have to figure out how can I help that individual? What does he want? Does he want to be the hero? Does he have a problem he needs to fix? Does he get something off his chest? Can I pass the litmus test? And the litmus test is – you know the old fashioned litmus test, when you dip it in there and you figure out if it’s a certain chemical or whatever, if you passes the test, the acidic thing. The litmus test for LinkedIn is – if this guy would go out and have a beer with me or a drink at a high end bar, because you have to think during covid time, your time is valuable. I’m not going to go off some stranger and have a drink with him because he could be creep. And I’m telling him all my secrets and stuff. So if they feel they could have a drink at a high end bar with you, you pass the litmus test, you pass the friend test. And that’s really where you want to be at. Maybe instead of just sending connection requests, you could take a look at five people a week and see, I want to engage with these five people because of their profile, the type of person they are, their network, whatever the case may be.

And I want to see what they’re posting. So engage with their post before ever sending a connection invite. If you engage with one or two or three of their posts and they respond, the chances of them of accepting the invite goes from there 30% to 90% and it goes all the way to 90%. You’ve not just done that one thing. The second thing that you accomplished is you move the relationship down the line. Your ask has to be appropriate to the relationship. Anyway. I blab a lot, but I think you get what I’m saying. Eric.

That’s a pretty one. We’re here because of your method, right. You took the right approach. I get dozens of inmails a day and people who are like, give me that. I’m like, I get it. You read Jeb Blunt, you want to get to 15 touches fast, right? So you think this spamming out my inbox is getting you to the 15 touches. But that’s not the case. And I get often and get outreach for people. They’re like, hey, we’d love to be on your podcast and like, thanks, booked up. But when you reached out, I did do exactly that, right. I looked at your profile, looked at what you’re doing. I’m like, yeah, here’s my booking link. Right. And here we are. So the proof is in the number of times I’ve said no to people. The one thing I always joke about too, is like, I want to make an explainer video of how not to sell people explainer videos on LinkedIn. Because I swear to goodness, about eight a day, people are like, hey, explainer videos are a great way to do whatever the first thing they do is. They’re like, here’s my calendar link to book your meeting, to set up your explainer video pitch session. Like, Nope, this isn’t going to go well for you at all. But welcome to my broadcast network, right. So for me, I’m like, hey, it’s another audience member. Good luck receiving my feed. But the real genuine connections where I could do, like you said, actually reach out and ask for time and meaningfully give back to them where they will care enough to take that time and give me that time. It’s a beautiful, like, it’s a bi-directional relationship of giving time and effort and attention because this is the real big thing. Right. We’re in the attention economy. And how do you get access to that attention?

Yeah, LinkedIn is so different than anything else. Here you have to come from a place of service. You got people that have, like, these Instagram models and what they call the thirst traps and all that. So that’s a different thing. Linkedin is really geared towards career change or building relationship building, working from home, B2B businesses or high value services. So these cheap off one methods that don’t work well, maybe they work well for a widget, right? We’re not selling widget here. We’re selling conversions to business. I have a client right now. One job that he gets is worth $200,000 per job. He’s trying to get one a month. Right. And not every method will work on his audience. And we may have a method that works perfect for me and awful for him. And it’s our job to figure out, well, where does this thing break apart? And then how can we bring it back where it will convert for them. Or we have to cover those dots to figure out how much is this client willing to do. A lot of these higher end people, high up individuals can’t do a lot of things.

They do certain things well. And if it’s outside the scope and not able to do, how do we cover those things? How do we simplify that process where we can cover those areas? And he can still be that person that can communicate. So it really depends on the strategy and what you’re trying to do on LinkedIn. But LinkedIn is known for a lot of that high-end B2B conversions. For example, I don’t really make a lot of money per client, but I’ll gain between one and two new clients a month, right. They’ll pay something like $3,000 or $4,000 upfront and then $1,100 per month. Right. You think over the course of a year that’s pretty good money because you’re compounding all the previous clients and they’re adding services. So that $1,100 a month could be $3,300 a month and so on. And if you got 20 clients at two grand, you’re making 40 grand a month on it and then adding to it. The trick is to slow down in order to speed up. So it’s not about rushing, it’s about just doing those things right. Another thing, too, is we have our courseware, and I couldn’t have done it without partners.

So partnerships, networking to build really solid partnerships is a really strength of LinkedIn. If it wasn’t for my partners, I wouldn’t have my courses. I wouldn’t have kept the Troy Show. I have a LinkedIn event called the Troy Show once a month, and I don’t want to do it all myself. It’s too much work. So we want to figure out these partners that have ancillary skill sets that will really possibly impact your business. And I even tricked my partner. His name is John Michelle. He’s another LinkedIn guy, a really good guy. And I said, you know what? I said, John Michelle loves to do these profile things, right? I said, Let me get him on a meeting. And so this is an example of a way that I tricked him, but it was beneficial for him. He got three clients out of it, right? So I know he’s going to be I’m a give. I’m a giver, right. I’m going to give him clients. But I said, hey, John Michelle. Hey, Troy. How are you doing? I said, pretty good. I’m redoing my profile. I was wondering if you can jump on a meeting with me, help me out.

He said, well, you’re a LinkedIn expert. Why would you want another expert? I said, well, because there’s crossover and there’s a percentage of stuff you do differently than I do. We have different flavors. I’m more branding, and he’s more SEO. And he’s in a certain type of details versus what I am. So we had a video. It’s 45 minutes. And I was challenging him on certain areas, and it made a good banter back and forth about why certain things. And I even disagreed on just a few blow points just to make it interesting. And he says, well, that was a pretty good video. And I chopped it up into seven pieces that may have a whole series of videos to show on LinkedIn for posting. And then I took those seven videos and I put them together on a LinkedIn article. Then I have an Evergreen article that reaches out to it. And he got three clients out of it. He said, thank you. Why did you give me these clients? I said, well, I mean, you helped out with the profile. He said, not really. I said, Well, yeah, you did. It was entertaining. It was good for my audience.

I said, but your audience is now hiring me to do these profile things. And he charges several thousand dollars, whatever it is, just to do the profile part. And I said, oh, that’s fine. Just keep the clients, you know. I guess. Well what do you want? I said, you know what? You think this would be a good series, maybe a course or something? He says, yeah, this make a great course. That was my goal the whole time, right? So he did the whole course, and then I did the series of courses. Now we have hundreds of videos and courseware now. And then we got people that have a large audience. Now, when I reach out to LinkedIn, other LinkedIn influencers and things like that, they have a large audience. And I said, let’s give them 25%. Let’s have them sell the course, and then they can get 25% and we can split it between the other partners and stuff like that. He says, well, are you okay for only getting a portion of it? I said, sure. Well, my method is if there’s not enough pies, you know the slices, they slice the pie up and you’re slicing it so thin you’re not making money.

I said, well, my idea is just make more pies.

It’s such a good way. The one thing that people are often too short-sighted about this stuff is they just immediately think like I can just hammer up this course and then I can sell it, and then I get 100% of the revenue and there’s literally dozens of ads that people will get a day. Once you click on one, you’re now in a loop of people selling this card and that card.

Oh, yeah, you’re going in a rabbit hole.

But if they don’t do what you did, which is open up the door and give the opportunity to collaborate. And collaboration is bi-directional. Sure, you saw that it would have been great to be able to create courseware with these folks. But in the end, you did it in giving back. You gave before you got.

Yeah, he was already in it before he knew it. And so I don’t think that’s mischievous, but because regardless he was going to get clients and he wanted to do the courses. And he has a certain experience, and I may have a certain audience, it just makes sense. And then we have an email person that comes in to run some of these shows. And so we convert on that, and we bring clients through it. And now we’ve attracted people that have large audiences, and we’ll give them a portion of it. As long as their network is right, everyone makes money. So it’s not a me, me thing. It’s how can we help each other in a way that everyone benefits. And that’s one thing that a lot of these solopreneurs are missing. They’re just like, I can do everything. Well, I’m a programmer, I’m a software engineer, and I’m a UI/UX person. I’m an award winning designer. I can do a lot of stuff well, but I’m a little older now, and I only have like 45-50 hours a week. I’m not doing anything more than that. And so the designer that designs 50 hours a week, and that’s all he does. Maybe he should do those things. We should distribute it out where we want. Because if we do everything ourselves, there’s no growth opportunity.

Right.

Because you’re wearing so many hats and you’re not able to go beyond a certain area. And so that’s where someone’s business processes and actually relationships come in handy.

There’s a great quote that I got from a book, and so I’m going to look it up right now just because I don’t want to miss quote, I want to call the title out because it was one that I really enjoyed, and it was called Twelve Months to 1 million. Ryan Daniel Moran, really fantastic book. But one thing that today says, it’s not a business if you walk away from it and it falls apart. You have to really build a machine around it because it’s easy for especially, we are as creative people as a designer, like, you know, maybe you could make $50,000 off a single client for a six week batch of work. But if three weeks into that batch of work, you have to leave, then you aren’t going to get half the $50,000. You’re going to get zero of the $50,000 and you lose your reputation. So what you do, you wrap a team around it so that you can contribute to it and share in that wealth and also get the benefit that you’re creating future opportunities, because now you can scale versus if you just be Troy Hipalito solopreneur for the rest of your life, something happens where you got to take care of your family, you got to move, you got to do stuff, and all of a sudden what do you do?

You just tell your client story. Work is stopping for the next four weeks because I got stuff to take care of.

Yeah. You definitely want to minimize upsetting your ongoing cash flow. I mean, that’s what’s going to make or break you. All these other things. You can make more money. Like I may make more money in the courseware, but not right now. It was an investment. It’s an investment. It’s building relationships. And on the tail end, you’ll end up making a good chunk of change. So I actually have an article that talks about documenting and creating your SOPs – your Service Offering Procedures. It’s not really a LinkedIn thing, but it’s more of a business thing. And so by having these service offering procedures, you’re actually teaching certain areas of your business so you can hire out. And the truth is, everyone says if they’re perfectionist, you are in the worst boat because you can’t screw yourself up. The person who’s doing his task. You say, it’s true, I can do the job with seven people, but I have to hire one person for one job. And I’ll give you a perfect example. Back in the day, I was the creative director of a company, and it was tied to another company. And they wanted me to engage the engineers and other web people on how to do a project. They’re doing government stuff, and I was doing civilian other stuff. Right?

Yeah.

And they had to create a website for this, this and this. They wanted me to engage with them. And they said, oh, yeah, this is a six month project, seven people. It’s a six month no. How long would it take you to do it? I said, it took me three weeks to do the whole thing. I was just being on. I was naive because I was a designer programmer and I knew all the bits of it. And they said, okay, you do it then. And that was done in two weeks. They never spoke to me again. I screwed up the relationship because they have different processes and stuff. And you have to be kind of careful about because you might be able to get that one thing done. But these longer relationships you can ruin if you don’t have a way to create this service operating procedure, to hire out in order to do certain tasks. And even if they do a task and they’re not 100% as good as you are, do they need to be, you think? Do they need to be exactly like me? I mean, what is really good? Like really good is better than most people.

Look at a program module, someone says, oh, we have to create this one component where it’s reusable. And I said, well, would you reuse it on another project? We probably could. I said, but you’re not. And you have to understand that the client is paying X amount of dollars and you might want to create this reusable component that eats up the entire budget and it makes no difference. So they have to think intelligently. How can I create these service operating procedures so people are taking certain tasks on that they’re good or good enough. And when I mean good enough, I mean very good, but maybe not exactly to what you’re used to doing, because we all are a little perfectionist in our own way.

Yeah. One of my funniest examples of this was like, I was like, 19, and I was building houses. I was working as a landscaper, and we would build houses during the fall when it would be lower in the landscape side. And I worked with this roofing crew, and it was like, such a funny thing that this is their full time gig. And they were run and gun contractors. They knew what they were doing. They come in, they got three days to do a thing. They’re going to stand it up, and they’re working on this house. And it was a friend of mine’s house. So I’m kind of, like, acting a little different because I know the guy that owns the house. And this guy’s hammering in a nail, and it goes in crooked. And then you see him, he’s, like, trying to back out the nail. And it was so funny that the guy’s name was Lumpy. It was his nickname. He said, Jesus Christ, Lumpy, we’re not building an F in piano. Just hammer it in. And it was so funny. I’m like, my instinct would be like, yes, do it right, spend the extra time email.

The other guy is just like, whack. He just hammers it in. It bends it in good enough so that it’s flush. And he’s like, then put another nail right beside it. And the difference of like, look, we just got to get this done. And like you said, it’s weird that we use phrases like good enough or whatever. Like, good enough is good enough. It’s good. It’s not barely good enough. It’s good enough. Most people don’t even do good enough. So it’s like this unfortunate scale that we, and you hear the phrase too, like, if you aren’t embarrassed about your minimum viable product, you waited way too long to put it out.

Yeah, my IT company, I had a lot of people saying, oh, I need to scale it to this. And I just had to tell them the truth. I said, look, you guys spend about $150,000 on this MVP, and once you get funding, you’re just going to rebuild it. Why would you rebuild it? I said, trust me, because investors going to come in because I went through investment many times. So I already know, like the process. They’re going to come in and say, oh, this is great, but our market that I want to hit is this or this is a cool feature and you can’t fit it in afterwards. A lot of times, especially, you have to get stuff done in a very small amount of time. So some people create MVP to take care of the functionality of a certain group of people or a maximum X amount of people. If you get beyond that, sometimes it’s okay to just take that idea and rebuild it, because sometimes the concepts and ideas are half to work. So you really have to think along what is realistic, what is good. When I say good enough, everything that we put out is very good.

But I have certain people that like my writing style. I look at the person and I figure out their personality and I write according to their voice. And another writer may not get that. So I have to figure out everything about the person. So I understand the vibe. And sometimes they don’t like telling me certain things and I drag it out of them. It’s like, okay, how did you grow up? What do you like I said, okay, are you gay or straight? Like, I’m blunt about I need to understand where you’re coming, what’s your audience, what’s your typical kind of client? And I blend that in. I said, okay, I think I got your voice. And I write it down like, wow, this is pretty good. And they make their tweaks to it because when someone looks at your LinkedIn profile, they’re looking at a person, they’re looking at the story. And the reason why we call these reality TV shows are so popular, it’s because it drives the story. I was living in my car and now I make a million dollars. So they want to know that story. How did you start from here and get over there and be successful. Especially in the states, they love a success story. They love the underdog, and they want to relate to you. That’s one reason I work with a lot of clients that have families. They’re family oriented. I understand that they have a bigger care. I work with people that maybe have a similar background because I understand what they’re going through. I have people that try to be sincere. At the end of the day, this is kind of where you’re going. And I’m bluntly honest with my clients. I tell them, okay, I’m going to do this. When you get your first client, I’m charging you more money. I’ll tell them, and we’ll make this thing work. And I think that personal relationship and engagement not just makes him feel good, it makes me feel comfortable and happy about helping other individuals.

The sincerity piece is always an interesting thing because I’ve had people say this. I can help somebody by writing content with them in a sincere first person voice. I can represent their personality. And like, you’re so fantastic at this, right? And then someone would say, like, well, is it really sincere if you’re getting someone else to write it for you? No, but that’s not the point. The point is they don’t have time to create this content. They created, they read it and they’re like, hey, this sounds like I wrote it like, bingo. Yeah.

They may not be good writers. They’re like coaches for this. Coaches by coach. Coaches hire coaches. That’s kind of what I am, and I’m not doing everything for them. Doing the first draft, I feel this is what you’re talking about. So if you’re a good person that does websites, you may be a terrible copywriter. If you’re a good 3D guy, you may be a terrible UI guy. If you’re a good coach that helps women, maybe you’re not that good at helping guys. I don’t know, making stuff up. So everyone has their strengths, but they have this passion inside to do something. And it’s our job to present that passion in a way that makes sense. Like a LinkedIn profile is really about 70% visual. But once you get past the visual, they start digging into the story. That story is the bit that will convert them. So the visuals will bring you in and the story will help convert. Of course, you have your LinkedIn SEO optimization and all those tricks too, but you have to have that balance where they said, you know what, this is someone I want to talk to, and that’s where you want to be on LinkedIn.

And it’s a mixture of all of those things, right? Like you can have great SEO, but then they get there and they go, okay, it was easy to find, which ultimately SEO is about searchability discoverability. But if I have great SEO for a restaurant, but the food’s trash, that’s no good. You can get people there. And then your role is to teach them how to keep people there and engage them and give that sincerity. Tell that story.

People can’t do it. That’s kind of funny. People say, I just want to sell stuff. Well, if you don’t want to put your human out there, maybe it’s not for you to convert in that way. Maybe you’re a high end CEO that uses it for PR purposes, that’s fine. But if you are converting, if you’re trying to get a career going on stuff, you need to have all your ducks in a row. If you’re trying to convert B2B or high value services, you have to have all these things in a row. Because when someone makes a decision, it’s usually an emotional decision first. And second, it’s based on stats. That’s how most humans work, right? And they look at you and you look like a douchebag on your photo. They’re not going to know it. But in the back of their mind, something is off with this guy here. I don’t think I want to work with them. You don’t know why, it’s your douchebag photo.

 t

Exactly.

Something simple as that. So making a decision to work with you, they may have 2, 3, 4, 5, 10 criteria, right? Whatever it is. And they don’t know it’s ten or five criteria. Say five is easy number. But all they have to figure out is one that you’re not qualified to not work with, you know. Like, how do I separate myself from all these other LinkedIn guys? Right. Well, I’m not as serious. I’m more human. That’s why I put the not so boring LinkedIn guy. It’s just funny enough to separate. It’s not really super funny and super off. My other line was actually better, but it didn’t apply to LinkedIn. When I had my gaming company, I was known as the number one Swissipino game designer in the world. Right. Because my mother from Switzerland, my dad is Filipino, I’m half Asian. And so my mother has blonde hair, green eyes, and my dad’s like, really Filipino and so I’m Swissipino. And that would be such a great pickup line of the bars. They would say, really? I think so. I probably number one Swissipino.

The irony is this, Troy, that you’re the second Swissipino person I know. I have a friend, somebody who’s Sonia Missio. She’s actually based in Toronto, and she also in that interesting split. But it is so funny that you say that. And like you said, that the genuineness comes out. And look, the truth is, design is important. User experiences, that engagement is important. If design didn’t matter, then there would be sushi milkshakes.

Yeah.

We like the fact that someone spent way too much time making it look good so you could eat it. Otherwise we would just be having nothing but Soylent milkshakes. And, like, there’s a reason we do stuff. You walk down the street, there’s flowers on the thing. Like, you see somebody’s profile, and it’s like half of their girlfriend or boyfriend’s face is in the shots. It looks like they’re on a fishing boat. That’s great photos.

That’s another thing I tell my clients. Oh, my goodness. Well, I don’t know. Do you have time to make money? I tell them I’m blunt with them. What’s going to cost me so much? I said, how much is the client worth? That’s my closer right there. I said, how much is a client worth to you? Okay. Then you’re going to have to do A, B and C or pay to do whatever. Because it’s like you want to be honest and you want to be authentic. But there’s also a fine line from kissing someone’s feet. The client doesn’t want that. Client wants to know that, hey, Eric knows what he’s doing. Troy knows what he’s doing. If he tells me something, it’s for a reason. It’s not because he’s blabbing. It’s because he’s trying to get me money. And those are the right people. Well, for my market anyway. Those are the right people to actually engage with because they’ll actually take the steps to do a process that works for them.

Yeah. There’s a really interesting thing you talked before about the kind of like firing your client. And it’s an important piece because as you look at where you can deliver real value. Right. And you’re selling value, you’re selling a specific outcome. And I’ve had this for an advisory with startups. And you start talking with them, and as you give them advice and you give them direction and you give them guidance, and they’re just, like going the opposite way on each thing. And then they say, I don’t understand why this stuff is not working. Well, I don’t know, maybe because the last three things I’ve told you that you should do, you’ve kind of gone in the opposite direction. And then at that point. I’m like..

Well, you’re nicer than I am. Yeah.

It feels like I don’t think I’m adding value to this. So I’m going to just step back.

Yeah. I had two clients I remember firing, and there’s a very specific story. One was, I have CPA. Anyone that has a high value of service I could potentially work with. Right. If they’re trying to convert on LinkedIn. One was a CPA, and he was from, I don’t know, the UK somewhere. We moved to Midwest. Older guy in Balding, and he was there. He was very dry. Right. And he used to take Zoom meetings like this. It pissed me off. Right. Like what? He wouldn’t even looked at the camera. He’s talking and he has his accent and all this other stuff. He says, Troy, this is not working very well. And I looked at him with a straight face. I said, didn’t you just get 14 clients in 45 days? How did you know that? I was like, I bet everything I do, I’m a lot smarter than, I don’t tell them that, but I’m a lot smarter than I look. Okay. Because I said, I talked to your VP two days ago before this meeting. He was trying to not pay and get these clients. Right. I don’t like that. That’s being very dishonest. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do.

Right. And I said, you know what? I’ll let you out of contract. Forget about 30 days. Maybe it’s not working for you. And he said, yeah, maybe it’s not working. Oh, it was working for him, but I don’t want to work with people that are trying to lowball me or lie to me. I had another guy, he was in cyber security. It’s another big area. And he was doing training, certification stuff right there’s. All these.

Yeah.

And he wanted to sell the certification to individual LinkedIn. I didn’t think it was a good idea. Right. I don’t know about cyber security. But I was like, yeah, I don’t think this is, is your audience receptive to this? Yes, it is. Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s kind of hard to sell these $4-5,000 courses and stuff. And I said, you got funding for it. And then I said, you know what? You might want to just partner with other security people and use this because you’re an ancillary, you’re an extra. And they already have the in on it. In on this company that’s doing this stuff. And they’d probably need his certifications anyway. And he said, well, I don’t have any partners give me two days. So I went to a security event here in Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia. And I paid my bills to get in, $500 to get in and was talking to these people and I talked to twelve people. I would love to talk to this person. I said, hey, I said forget this whole what we’re doing, just forget it. I’ll give you meetings. I said these clients are worth a lot. I said, this one client here don’t miss the meeting. And he’s traveling and all this stuff. He agreed to the meeting, he missed the meeting twice, right? Twice.

Frustrating.

Yeah. And the other people who were not, I don’t know what he was doing. Some people do their business, shoot by the hip. He was going and he was from Texas and he was going to another country and I was having meetings with them and I told him directly, I said, hey man, I like you, but I don’t want to see what’s happening in their background because he was at his mistress house or something and that’s not cool. I don’t want to know that personally. I don’t care if you have two women or you’re married, you’re single, you’re gay, you’re straight. I think as long as you treat people well, that’s important. But what I have a personal issue with is deception because that means you’re not going to run an honest business, right? So I had to let them go. I like the guy. But if you can’t make the meetings and you’re in these compromising things and stuff and you’re trying to cover the campaign, don’t do that. So you have to work with people that have the same, I wouldn’t say moral structure, but integrity, right. Integrity, that’s a good word to have the same kind of ideals that you do.

Because you know that at the end of the day, if he’s going to do stuff right, I know that I won’t get paid. I’m not going to fight over payment. I would just can you and stop all your services and you won’t make any money. It’s really simple for me. You can’t manipulate me. I’m here to help you to convert. And so you need those individuals that say, you know what, I will make it to this meetin., I will go in here and help this individual do what they need to do and I’m going to make business. You have to have a very clear head on. Like how am I going to get to point A to point B and then know that next month you may have to jump from A to C. You have to figure out the connecting the dots, you have to do some AB testing on what works and then you have to figure out like this works better. And it’s okay because you didn’t know that before. It’s a process. So people think that, oh, I get this automation thing on LinkedIn, I’ll make a million dollars. No, it doesn’t work that way.

It works against you. Linkedin will shut you down. And if that’s the main channel, it’s not going to help you out. So a lot of the lower end and not lower end is money so much, but lower end and thought process and being human and helping, they don’t do very well on LinkedIn, where a lot of coaches that have a little bit of a brand, a little bit of flair, something that separates them from other people, you got people that like them, actually like them, they can engage with them. And every personality works well. Had this one guy really dry personality. I told him, you are dry as toast. I told him, you’re dry as toast. I said, that’s your brand.

Be proud.

I said, yes, you are. I’m telling you are. I said, you know why you could say dry jokes. And it’s funny because you’re such a straight face. It works for you. And I said, and you’re a CPA. Do they want a funny guy to be messing with their money? No, they want a serious dude. And you have to kind of think about it like that. You have to think about what is my personality. And so I actually am somewhat dry. I’m kind of funny. I got dry humor. That’s what it is, right? Not so boring. Linkedin. I’m kind of boring. So I twisted it upside down to do that. And I would love to be the number one Swissipino LinkedIn guy in the world, but it wouldn’t make sense. LinkedIn, they wouldn’t know. It doesn’t. Because when you’re doing gaming, it’s a little more fun. And they’re going to ask, what is Swissipino? But on LinkedIn, they’ll be like, this makes no sense at all. So you have to apply a brand that kind of makes sense to that audience.

And it goes to your approach to it. Right. Which is about adaptability, because even where a method may work for one company, one brand, one person, that same thing. If you just automate it and try and sell it to ten other clients without gating, is this appropriate without evaluating? Is this going to fit their persona, their audience? It’s both sides of that experience, too. It’s not just about you. Two funny people are not two funny people. There are two funny people that each have individual audiences. The one dry CPA guy, like you said, your clients are going to dig this. They want to kind of know that you’re the dry CPA guy. Somebody who’s hiring a real funny person if they want them for a keynote speaker for a CPA conference. Perfect. But if you want, it’s like matching and mapping skills to value, to perception, it is a real like, you achieve a really interesting mix by being dynamic, having the integrity, being genuine through the process. And then making sure that those people then parlay that genuineness, that integrity because of how you work with them.

Yeah. And part of it is clarity. When you’re creating a brand, you don’t want to say, oh, I can do this. I don’t really talk about all my development other than in the story. But in general, when you look at my profile, it’s very clear that he’s a LinkedIn guy. He’d get me clients. It’s very simple concept. But if you say, oh, by the way, I can do website design. I did Coca Cola stuff. What are you, a LinkedIn guy or a programmer? You end up looking like a flea market, and that’s one thing you have to avoid. You want simple clarity. You can add a little humor in it. For branding purposes, you want a separation, but what are you known for? I picked up a client last week, and he says, you know, I want to help professional women, right? They’re owners of businesses or they’re higher up in the thing and they feel like something’s missing. I said, I totally get it, okay? I can help men, too. I said, no, men will come in as ancillary. What do you mean? I said, you can’t say, oh, I helped a lot of women, but men can come in too. Well, no. You want to concentrate on that. Your main nuts or your main fruit, low hanging fruit. And by doing that and doing it well, your interaction with them, they’ll give you another client. You have your clients to come based on referral. I don’t care what kind of system you have going on. We got systems where we have direct message campaigns and stuff, but they’re not sequenced. They’re teaching the client how to reach to certain audiences. We have posting campaigns and stuff like that that we have a whole series of things that are done that promotes authentic conversations. And so a lot of things that we do, we have to slow down, have less but better conversations. By doing that, you convert. How many clients you really freaking need.

Right. Yeah. And the thing that you hit on there is like that clarity and crispness. Like, even when we talk about going to public speaking, I coach people in this all the time. When you go to give a keynote, your opening slide should not be, Hi, my name is Eric Wright. I’m a product marketer. I work for a company, and prior to this, I did 20 years working in financial services. I was a systems administrator. Started off as desktop support. Made my way to me. Prior to that, I was actually a landscaper.

Or you could start with that and say, Just kidding and move on. Right?

But it’s like that’s the first thing they do is they do that, and then they end the presentation with a thank you slide. You’re like, no, what you should do is how many times have you gone into the office and realized that there’s no door by the bathroom? That’s two way door.

Storytelling, yes.

 And you immediately get into this thing. And that’s what your profile has to tell a story. But you’ve got 160 characters to do it in. So you just can’t dilly dally around. You got to get to it and it’s got to be meaningful, engaging. And like you said, it’s got to match the other stuff. But it’s hard as the person, the self, to have the humility to step outside and create that. That’s why having you come in and do this with them, it’s like such a boost, because it is balanced voice.

Because you have character limitations. You have SEO on Google as well as SEO on LinkedIn. So Google has searched everything on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn has their own search as well. And LinkedIn tends to do things a certain way, so you have to do things a certain way. For example, you’re on individual jobs, right. Linkedin tends to pair you with people that are similar to you. Right? Well, that’s not what you want to do if you’re doing B2B sales or your coach.

That’s right. It’s trying to find you a job, not a client.

Oh, I need another programmer. Like, I know a Zillion program. You know what I mean? You’re trying to get business, right? So one trick is to actually put your target market in your title. It’ll start pairing you up with your target market. And people don’t think about that. You know, one thing to do is when I say I’m a Not So Boring LinkedIn guy, right. That’s the first thing I have underneath my name. And it’s not SEO optimized, but I don’t care. It’s more important to have that brand. And then I have the other things that are very searchable. And then when you’re telling a story, this is an easy way to explain it. I want to show the scars, but I don’t want to show the wounds. Right? You can over inundate like you can say, yeah, I was homeless. My mom died. My brother died. He had an overdose. My girlfriend was cheating on me and left me. I was living in the shit. No one can hear that. That’s just horrible. That’s just too much. I mean, you don’t want to say my life is awful, but I’m trying to make it.

That doesn’t work. So showing the scars and then not the wound, that would be showing the wound.

Right.

Showing the scars could be like the dating story. I told you I was an awful dater. It’s funny and it’s true. I am so direct. I used to go straight for it and it works sometimes, but most of the time it didn’t. So taking the approach of old fashioned dating into business just to get to know someone, just to see, I think dots connect. Are you in the same area? You have some commonalities? Is there something that you think he needs that you can help that has maybe nothing to do with your business? Maybe it’s someone I can connect them with or, oh, he doesn’t need a LinkedIn guy. He needs to fix his freaking email. I got an email guy. And people say, oh, I got great deliverability. No, you don’t. People don’t realize that a good portion of emails never make it. And I could tell them, look, LinkedIn is great, but LinkedIn is not everything. Like, we pull stuff off of LinkedIn and create a video funnel series through like dub or some kind of component that makes it more interactive because some people don’t reply on LinkedIn. So what are you going to do? You have to figure out what works best to help convert the goals of that client and a lot of it is technology based. And can you imagine sending a proposal to someone and they don’t get it? And the client says, well, I never got it. Well, the clients not thinking, oh, it’s a mysterious email. No, it’s a you problem.

Yes, right.

You screwed up and you lost the deal. So people sometimes don’t know how important these little components are to fix because it’s a cassette of dominoes. You remove one or two dominoes, it doesn’t complete. And I think a lot of people are so geared about volume. I mean, if you do a high value services, I’m good with one client a month. One, there’s a lot of work for me, maybe two maximum. A high value clients worth at least $1,000 a month compound monthly. You can compound that. My other client, like I mentioned, one job is $200,000. When you take the work in, can you deliver the work? And then maybe you can grow your business and your service offering procedures and training, and you can slowly grow out in that way. But I think that everyone, not everyone, but many people are about that volume and that volume will work against you. Can you imagine reaching out someone’s interested and they reply back and you don’t have time?

If they all come back and say, yes, if you’re not ready for that and it doesn’t have to be many, it can just be, like you said, one or two of them. They say, yeah, go for it. And you’re like, oh but I can’t go for it now.

Yeah, stabbing yourself in the foot. So you have to realize what is appropriate. And it’s okay to have a small business. It’s even okay to have a job if you’re doing career changes. I got a buddy that’s a sales guy for servers. I don’t even know what he does. Right. I’ll be honest with you drinking buddy. We go out, we talk. I said that dude makes a quarter of a million dollars a year having a job. So it’s not all about entrepreneurship. It’s about his ability to build relationships with clients. And whether you’re entrepreneur or having a job, you have to charge what you’re worth and you have to deliver what you say.

Put that on the card. There you go. Well, Troy, this has been fantastic and I tell you that’s a great way to wrap because it is important, right? Whether you’re selling yourself into a job where they’re selling yourself into a service, whether you’re selling a team, whatever it is, there’s the way you do it to bring that personality, that integrity through, I’m glad genuineness that you bring to this is enlightening and it was really great to share this. So for folks, if they do want to reach out to you, they can find you on LinkedIn, I presume.

My first and last name Troy last name is Hipolito. H-I-P-O-L-I-T-O. There is another Troy Hipolito out there, that’s actually my brother but he’s in the army so that’s a whole different guy. I used to be an army. Anyway, long story but I’m the most popular Troy Hippolito out there, right?

Not only is the top Swissipino but he is the top Troy Hipolito.

In the world, yeah.

Well, there you go. Troy, thank you very much. This has been really great and encouraged folks do reach out and taken your content through the great I love the way you approach things and yeah, we all need a little bit more Troy in our lives so thanks for taking the time today.

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Al is a big fan of Letterkenny. He thinks it’s one of the best, funniest and most inclusive shows to come out of Canada. His wife Tanya thinks he’s crazy, so Al has created this podcast along with his friends Mat and Victor to try to convince Tanya that he’s not crazy.

That is just the beginning of an amazing story. We have a really fun chat with Al, Tanya, and Mat. Victor couldn’t make the show unfortunately but that just means we have to come back for a 2nd show!

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Transcript powered by HappyScribe

Welcome back. This is Eric Right. I’m the host of the DiscoPosse podcast. And thank you for listening. Oh, and thank you for watching. If you want to see this episode in as real as real life can be on YouTube, you can go check out Youtube.com/discopossepodcast because this is definitely one of those fun ones that’s worth watching because there’s a ton of people on there. It really gives you a sense of who’s talking when because this features the team from the produce stand. Now, the produce stand is a really fantastic podcast. That’s about the show Letter Kenny. You’re probably saying to yourself, who are the produce stands? What is Letter Kenny? Well, you’re going to want to dig in because this is Tanya and Al Squirrely Matt. We were missing Victor because he’s the number four Mike on the whole crew. But this is absolutely a fun one to watch and listen to. So check it out.

We talk about podcasting, the idea of making first a show about a show and then even more so, the absolutely super involved in interactive community that they’ve built around it. Really, really cool. And I got to say that I’m proud of what they’re doing. They definitely are worth a listen and hopefully a watch. Let’s get them on YouTube as well. All right, speaking of YouTube and speaking of things, listening to and watching and that are worth it, I got to give a shout out to the sponsors that allow me to do this, that make this amazing thing happen. And I got to start with our fine friends over at Veeam Software, because whatever it is that you need for your data protection needs, they got you covered. Reason is today is a dangerous time. We’re losing data, we’re losing servers, we’re losing applications, we’re losing time. Don’t do it. Protect your assets, whether they’re on premises. Whether in the cloud. Whether they’re physical servers, whether they’re cloud native, use their casting platform. All sorts of really cool stuff. And hey, don’t just back it up, but actually do automated data and backup and full application recovery. Really cool team. Great products. Go check it out.

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Hi, my name is Tanya, and we’re here today with Al and Squarely Matt from the produce stand. And we’re on DiscoPosse podcast.

This is the fun part because when you get to have professional podcasters on a podcast, I get to just walk away like, I’m done. You folks can run with it. Thank you all for being on this side of the bike. This is weird, too. The last time we chatted, of course, I was a guest on your podcast, and thank you very much for that. And you are all part of something really cool. And if it’s new to people here, I hope they obviously check out the podcast. They check out the show the podcast talks about. But you’re much more than that because it’s a bunch of you. I got to go around Robin here. Now, the good part is we’re all going to sound as Canadian as possible, which is hilarious. People never know that I’m Canadian until I talk to another Canadian. And then for whatever reason, our accents kind of bleed pretty heavily in those ones. I’ve been watching some of the Ottawa trucker protests, and I think that I sound Canadian until I watch a live stream from Ottawa. And I’m like, oh, now I know why people think Canadians sound funny.

Well, they hide it there.

Those Canadians in particular. But we won’t go there tonight.

There’s a different breed altogether. So. All right, I will go in order of importance. Tanya, you’re up first.

Oh, you should know by now I don’t like going first on our podcast.

That’s exactly why I shoved you up front.

Fantastic.

Isn’t paying attention.

So if you want to do a quick bio and tell folks what brought you to the produce stand.

All right, my bio gosh, we’re not doing weight heightened measurements. What brought me to the Product Stand was, of course, Al, my husband. You watched the whole thing. And I would get snippets of it here and there. When I was coming into the room and ready, the kids were down for the night, and I was coming to sit and watch a show with him, and he’s like, oh, this show is great. This show is great. And he tried to force me to watch a couple of them, and I just thought it was the stupidest show I’ve ever seen in my life. And none of it made sense. None of it I liked. It wasn’t my kind of thing. It’s an acquirement that I have grown to appreciate and like, and in some cases, love. But yeah, he then came to me and said, I have an idea. This is during Covid. I want to do a podcast, and I want you on it. And I think my jaw dropped. And I was like, are you kidding me? Why do you want me involved in this? I don’t like the show. Like, you’re not going to make me like the show.

And he’s like, no, here’s my plan. Here’s my idea. I’m going to have Mat, I’m going to have Victor and you because you all have different outlooks on the show, and it will make for interesting podcasts. So it’s his brainchild. And I just kind of tagged along and there was nothing else to do, it was covid. So I’m like, hey, why not? And it was actually the best thing for me, for us. I think the whole team has all said that this is just one of those steps out of life and a moment to just sit back and laugh and share and enjoy something that is not anything to do with anything going on in the world today. And yeah, that’s kind of my thing.

We definitely need that. And yeah, it’s been great. And it’s funny. Like you said, the mix of voices and styles and opinions is what makes it good and Al, of course, since you’re next on Mike, I’ll pick on you as the next bio deliverer. Sure.

I’m Al Grego, and I am the producer and host of the Produce Stand Podcast. It’s a pandemic project, as many projects that started in the pandemic were. But I’ve always wanted to do a podcast since I knew what podcasts were. I’ve been listening to podcasts since probably 2003, 2005. I can’t remember now. And my first exposure to kind of an after show type podcast, which is what we do, was the Lost Jay and Dan podcast. And I really loved it because this is a show that I really enjoyed watching. And then I was starved for more content in between episodes. So I’d look online for anything I could. And I found this thing called the podcast, and I listened to it. And it’s all people who have the same interests as me talking about a show that I loved. And so that’s what we’re doing with the produce stand. And yeah, Tanya is right a little bit selfishly. I asked her to be on just because I knew this is going to take up some of my time. And if she was involved, she couldn’t complain about it.

But also..

We joked about that yesterday. Yeah.

It’s a great show. And I know superficially it looks like dumb humor, but there’s actually a lot of, like, heart and a lot of smartness behind the dumb jokes. And it’s a very accessible, it’s a very progressive show, despite on the surface what it looks like and I wanted to get the word out. And I looked it up and I saw what other podcasts are out there that talk about Letter Kenny. And one of the bigger ones is Dean and Tiara down in Seattle, who we’re going to have on tonight. They’re our biggest competitor, but they’re also our closest allies have been doing it a lot longer than us. But in terms of Canadian view for this show, there was another one based in Toronto, but he just didn’t – he stopped doing it after a while. I don’t know why. I reached out and I haven’t been able to contact them. So, yeah, it’s a Canadian podcast about a Canadian show. And we’re here to kind of translate all the Canadians on the show to those who want to watch and listen. And we have so many viewers from all over the world, and we’ve got an amazing community that we’ve built. And it’s been our recipe from all the craziness that’s been going on.

Yes. And that leaves the perfect final intro to what makes up the reason why you call yourself Squirrely Matt. Definitely a good show reference. And we should also know that we are missing Victor, who could not make it to the broadcast today, but also another great voice on the show. But Mat., you’re up.

Yeah, thanks for having us. So, yeah, Matt Belonje, aka Squirrely Mat. I’ll pull on everybody demand there. Father of three, hubby of one as he starts his off. And yeah, it’s been a blast to go back to the initial thing, how we got into it. It’s the same idea. This was definitely a joke. Love child out of covid boredom. I know Alan and I have known each other for years through work. We played around with some podcasting through work and other things. I have a bit of a media background that was sort of where I started. My career didn’t follow that path. Priorities change, some interests change. But I originally had some aspirations to be involved in film and television in some degree. So even though that’s not directly what this is, the media world and anything connected to it around it has always been a real passion and interest in the background. So, yeah, like Tanya said when covid kicked off, and then Al reached out to me one day and said, hey, do you want to be in a podcast with me or do you want to come to a podcast? I didn’t even ask him what it was about. I just said, sure. And then I said, well, what are we doing on? And then he said, Letter Kenny. And I laughed. I’m like, oh, really? Okay. All right, let’s do it. And I was really excited because I don’t know if you mentioned it, but I think I was the one who got you into Letter Kenny. Originally. It was definitely a show I was aware of. I watched, I was a fan of, and then I got out onto it and he got hooked. And I think he’s become the super fan of our group. But that’s okay. We all love it. And it just took off from there. And I think we were all very surprised and kind of thrown back a bit by what it’s become. And that’s been the real thing about it. I know Kobe hit people a lot of people very differently. I know early on I joked, but it was truth. I didn’t step inside another building outside of my own house for over 100 days. I’m not talking grocery stores like you name it. My wife did everything early days of just general concern. So we dedicated one person. So it was a very strange time, and it still is. But this definitely very quickly became that weekly escape where we could just put everything aside, come together with friends, laugh, argue, debate, have some fun. And regardless of what happened, it was just, we’ve had nothing but a blast. And now we’re trying to figure out how to keep it going because we’ve caught up to the series. But it’s been a blast. And I’m very thankful for what Al has led us through and what we’ve created as a group and now where we are here.

Well, if you talk about the fan base, too, you’ve got sort of competitors in the marketplace. I think of the days of message boards for talk radio groups, and there’d be like Ron and Fez, Nope and Anthony and all these talk radio was huge. Of course, we didn’t have much. We had Humble and Fred in Toronto and they’ve moved around a bit. You would have someone and someone. It was always like a goofy duo. Maybe they had a third person on who would be a bonus voice, the stunt boy, or whatever it was going to be. And then you would get these message boards because that was sort of the way that people communicated outside of the show. We didn’t have YouTube, we didn’t have these other ways to chat. So people would go on these message boards and then you’d get three message boards and they’d be sort of like warring for who was the top message board for whatever radio duo was. And it was hilarious because that was this fun competition. But obviously you’re all fans, so you’re not really competing. You believe in a common purpose, and it’s a fun community way to do it.

But now podcasting changed this, that you can be broadcasting, you can get your voice out there. Their limitations for access to this stuff is so good, right? It’s much lower and production quality. You folks do a really great job with production. As a guy that does zero post production. Like, I literally will record this. I will cut off the front in the back, and I will push it to air. Like it doesn’t get much treatment. I got a huge respect for the amount of work that you do, you know, as a group, I don’t know who wants to raise the hand. I imagine Al, you’re probably as the technician behind a lot of the stuff because I know you’ve got a real talent for that.

But yeah, a bit of background in audio engineering, obviously. It’s what I went to College for. Podcasting is a marriage of my love of radio, which I was a big fan of radio growing up. And my audio engineering background and just wanting to create content and knowing that I have a voice for Face for radio. But radio doesn’t exist anymore. Podcasting is just so much more accessible, for sure. I mean, I credit – I come from a corporate training background for 20 years. That’s how I made my living, working for various companies. But just recently in my latest role in my latest company, I started using podcasting as a training tool. And so that’s where I kind of started doing that and having some fun with it. And I credit actually Toronto Mike, who’s a big time podcaster in the Toronto area. I call him the Canadian version of Mark Marin. And actually today he just released his $1,000 episode. So kudos to him. He invited me into his house and he showed me his set up in his studio and we had some great chats. And he didn’t charge me for it. He was just, yeah, come on over because he knew I was a listener and a fan and we had a great time.

And from that knowledge, I went back to my office and I bought the equipment. I started podcasting, and that got the right amount of attention. So that when my company decided and I’ll mention the company name, Mineris, decided that they wanted to start a podcasting strategy of their own. I’m the one they tapped. So I went from training to marketing in the company, and I’ve never been in marketing before, but they saw me as kind of the resident expert, and that’s where now I make a living. Like the Protestant is a passion project. I make no money doing that. But now I’m making my living as a podcaster, which is amazing. I love it. Five years ago, that would have been unheard of now.

Now, Mat, you mentioned you had early aspirations for TV and broadcast stuff. What was your exposure to it? And then what was the diversion that took you out of that game?

Yeah. So I originally went to school, Loyalist College out in Belleville, Ontario, for television and new media production. So I was on the full production side, learning how to use a camera, edit graphics, direct, you name it for production. I very much enjoyed it. I will also say I was in my much younger years at the time and not so focused, so that definitely didn’t help. And then when I came out of it, I had a couple of co-ops and internships, and one of them which was actually up in Barry at the A channel at the time, which I believe is now CTV north or something like that. And it was also the time for Canadian folks I know Belglow Media Buyout. So Chum Media at the time got bought out by Belglow Media. And the industry was kind of in a weird spot where there was a lot of hiring. I think it was more firing as they were sort of dismantling and rearranging that. And that was the time I was trying to find a job. So it made it very difficult. I thought I had this great in, and then they pretty much put a freeze on at the station and that kind of derailed a little bit.

And it’s one of those industries, if you don’t stay close to it, you quickly get far from it. Right. It doesn’t take much. It’s like buying a new computer. By the time you buy and take it home, the better one’s already on the shelf, right? Same idea with these industries. You start stepping away from it, the longer you’re gone, the more difficult it is to get back. And then there was some things on the personal side. My family, we kind of had some movement around and I had to find a different gig just to keep myself going. And again stepped aside and side before I knew it, it was kind of felt too far. And then priorities changed. I had my oldest son a couple of years after that. And at that point I was like, I just need to keep my head above water. And it just seemed like a distant dream at the time. That said, as the years have gone on and I think Al too of the work we’ve done in our company, I’ve worked in fraud. I’ve worked in a number of other things, nothing to do with media.

But through his work and some of the cross stuff that we do, he had the opportunity to dabble with podcasting, dabble with internal videos for training materials. And he was nice enough to invite me in, knowing I had a bit of a passion for that in a former life. So he and I work closely to set up the green room and things of that, another green room, like the green screen space and do some lighting and play around. So he’s kept me close to that taste of that kind of life. And it’s been fun to play around with that. So when this came up to do podcasting – again, I’ve never had a ton of experience with podcasting, but I knew what it was right. I’ve always liked radio as well. But I’m like, I’m in. This is just going to be fun. And it’s really paid off as something that’s kept that flavor going. I’m also that nerd for film and television. I know when I drive around if I see a bunch of pylons on a road that actually I think they say TPS or something like that. I’m like that’s a film production and all often slow down.

I’ll sneak into what’s going on here. I get this weird excitement when I get near productions and I just want to know what’s going on. I know I won’t be a part of it, but it’s great. And we’re in Toronto, which is Hollywood North, right. So there’s productions all the time. Even my neighbor, he’s in a film crew and working on Titans and a number of other things. So I get to talk to him and banter about the industry a bit. So that’s good enough for me and my point of life. But yeah, that’s kind of what the diversion was. Priority changes. I’ll put it that way.

Yeah. And I think what’s great about it, though, like, look, 20 years back, ten years back even, when we think of the industry, like film, radio, you would get a job as an intern. And that was like a magical thing, right. You would be just getting exposure, the magical feeling of like, well, at least I’m in here. You’d get a pittance of a salary for the pleasure of doing coffee runs and grabbing production pieces and doing crazy after hours editing. Whatever it’s going to be to make that two hour show amazing. You get near zero credit for it. If you’re lucky, you get a little bit of credit for it. You never get mic time. You never get camera time. It was a very sort of like there’s a lot of machine wrapped around it. And they were like, you got to do your time, kid. You got to earn your keep. Then you eventually get up. If you’re lucky, you audition. Maybe you get an overnight show. It was a battle to get in. Nothing. Fuck it. I got an SM seven B. I got an Internet connection. I run a radio station now.

It’s awesome. The other big thing, I think a lot of it, looking back, my own growth and self awareness is confidence. Right. I look at younger version of Mat doing even this seems a stretch. I always had sort of my personality, but I had a real confidence issue when I was younger. So trying to step outside my comfort zone and put myself out there in a place of vulnerability, it was very challenging. So I didn’t do it, right. Now, I could give two fucks. I’m like, I’m going to do what I want. I don’t mind putting myself online, even in my line of work, even though it’s not related to this. I talked to people at all levels of the organization. I have no problem sort of calling out what’s what, because I’ve seen success. I felt what it feels like to be vulnerable and then see the outcomes of it and how it can be successful. And it’s not something that you should shy away from. Right. But when you’re young, you don’t know that you’re kind of forced into the system and find education. You know what you want to do, and no one really does.

Some people do. And, man, I wish I had that, but a lot of people don’t. And you kind of go through this whirlwind of trying to sort yourself out. And in all reality, it’s not till about your 30s that you figure even half of yourself out. And then I’m also at that time supposed to have had it all put together. So it’s challenging for sure. But again, it is what it is. And I’m very happy now with what’s going on.

Well, you mentioned too, new media, because I remember that’s kind of what it was called race time when you were going to school and you’re at Trevis, and we had other folks who we knew, Travis Watts, good friend of ours who we were all together with. We had a bunch of folks and they would get jobs in this like new media, which meant basically you’re doing Dreamweaver and funky early stage 3D animation and passing media. Macromedia was a product like a company that was worth investing in back in the day. Right now it’s just gone. But it was almost the same thing. It became this elite, you were just happy to be beside it kind of experience. And now it’s so just democratized and accessible. It’s fantastic because those limitations are gone. And I think kind of what you’re saying, Mat, like 20 year old me while being in a different mindset, because if I ever said if 20 year old me met 49 year old me and I said, I’m coming from a place of vulnerability, I’d have punched me in the ear, right, because I just would never thought I would ever think like this. But this is the truth. But 20 year old me would be more confident, I think, because of the accessibility of platforms and software and capability. Like, there’s no less of a barrier now. Other than your personal sort of choice to grind it out.

Less of a barrier but more of an overwhelming option, if that makes sense. There’s a lot more out there. But you’re right, you can get at anything you need to.

That young confidence, though, came more from kind of ignorance and not knowing any better, not so much. Because when I was at that age, I wouldn’t know where to start. Right. I would just start and then hope to work it out.

But yeah, I’m still doing that. What are you talking about? This is my approach to life.

The beauty of what I took in Trevis, the multimedia, is it kind of let me dabble in everything. Video, web, graphics, audio. And that suited me just fine now because now I look at any kind of job in marketing or any kind of creative work or content creation, you need to know all those things. But the tools are such so that you don’t need to have the same kind of level of knowledge that I had growing up. Because now a lot of it is pretty WYSIWYG and pretty easy to do. Point and click and push a button, apply a filter and you’re done. But still having that kind of foundation and also that well rounded knowledge of the different media, you know, video, audio, graphic art and stuff. I’m not a graphic artist, but I know good graphic art when I see it. So I know who to go to when I need a poster made. Right. So, yeah, that’s really served me well. And I think that really prepared me for what the world it is now.

And I guess for the folks that get to watch this on video. If you’re listening on audio, head on over to the YouTube channel. You can check this out. Speaking of posters, you have a plethora of really cool posters behind you, Al. And I know, of course, these are the Royal Pains posters. So you talk about the Royal Pains and give a little brief history on what the posters are from.

Well, I was the weekend rock star before everything shut down. And I was blessed to not only have a great band, but my guitarist was an insanely talented graphic artist who when we first started playing, he’s like, hey, do you want me to design some posters? And we’re all like, yeah, that’d be great because we knew the kind of art he did. And then he said, and then we can just kind of reuse them for every show. He’s like, no, I was going to make a poster for each show. I’m like, really? And he did. And so what I have on my wall here are just some samples. We played over 120 or so shows. We have a poster for every single one, and they’re all equally amazing. Again, we were blessed with talented musicians, but also talented artists in our band. Sadly, the band is no more. We can thank COVID for that. But yeah, continue rocking on and hopefully one day I’ll be back on stage again. But until then, we’ve got the memories.

You and I shared a stage a couple of times ourselves as well back in the day.

So that was poised for the worm. Yes.

That was still your Twitter handle too PftW, right?

That’s right.

Well, you know what it is. I mean, Gmail finally came and took away my Hotmail. Or else I’d still have my Hotmail, too. Because once you have that online persona, it’s kind of hard to switch, right? So poised for the worm. That was my persona from 20 years ago. And I just kept it because it was just easier to do that than find something else.

You’re talking to a guy that’s known around the world as Disco Posse. I get you.

This point.

I went to a tech conference in Paris, and this was hilarious thing. So it’s like a bunch of people showed up and of course, they’re common community. So in the tech community, we’re basically like Carney’s. We just go from town to town and it’s a different town, but it’s the same goofy asshole in the tent every time. So we just go and we would have a show. And I was speaking at one of the events. And there’s a guy who I’ve always been keen on chatting with, and we knew each other on Twitter, right? That was kind of how we communicated. And so this guy, Randy Bias, if you’re into cloud computing, he’s the guy that coined the phrase pets versus cattle, if you ever hear that phrase. So he’s the one that was the originator, we believe, of that phrase. Ray is a great guy, really wild personality, interesting character. And I’m just walking across this random sort of place in Paris and all I hear is Disco Posse yelled across. And I look. I’m like, what’s going on? And I look. And there’s Randy Bias finally for the first time meeting in person and you don’t call and yell Eric, everybody would be a bunch of them, probably.

So Disco Posse, there is only one I’m a safe bet there.

It’s funny when you have the online world kind of mixed worlds and you meet people in person for the first time. I remember Toronto Mike had one of his listener experiences where a bunch of listeners came together in person to meet each other. And we all had to have name tags with our online personas on the name tag.

Name, right.

Yeah. No one knew my name was Al. They knew I was PftW or Royal Pain or whatever. Right. It’s just hilarious. So we all had name Tags with nonsense at names on them or whatever. That’s awesome.

Well, I remember the first time I’ve even seen, like, cereal boxes when they wrote the Twitter handle on it for the company name. And I remembered thinking, like, I think this is when it’s going to take off. I was already on Twitter and you started to see it being talked about and news channels would have it in the Chiron and there’d be more presence of that stuff. And then it became that. And then the funny thing was choosing your identity, especially if you’re associated with a brand. Like, imagine that you were brandnew to it, then you’d be like @monarisAl. Right. That’s what people would often do is they put their company in there. And I was lucky enough that my presence was so separated from everything that I did that it never conflicted. So I would go and people would just know where I work, but I didn’t have to tag it along. And it’s funny that there was a time when you had to choose MySpace, Twitter, like all these things. And where do you put your effort to grinding up your audience?

Yeah, I’ve gone through a couple of handles all in I know in my early ICQ days and MSN days, it was dopeyxtc. I have no idea how that came to be.

Not a far cry from Squirrely Mat then.

Not a far cry, yeah. And at some point I realized I don’t think that’s going to work going forward. And then I landed on Dude North, and I don’t remember how it happened, but one day that came to my head and I laughed and I’m like because I was very much a specially a kid in high school, even when I was still dopextc, I almost only wore things that had a Canada flag on it. Like I was one of those weird hardcore Canadian Patriot guys. Like, I had 17 different T shirts with different slogans, and it was obsessive at one point. It was kind of weird. But anyways, and then so when Dude North came into my head, it made me laugh. I’m like, I’m the dude from the north, right? And it just stuck from there. And I’ve really held on to that one. So even when I didn’t even use Twitter in the early days, I went and set up @thedudenorth on Twitter. And then I walked in just in case. I started to use it more. And I’ve held on to it since because I’ve just really enjoyed that name. And as long as I’ll be able to keep it, it’s going to keep going, right?

It’s a solid brand. Oh, it’s a call.

I like it. Yeah.

Who the fuck knows what pftw is?

But to be honest, I’ve known you a long time. I think that’s the first time I’ve heard what it actually means.

I guess Pink Floyd the Wall.

Now, Tanya, you’re the interesting one of the bunch because you have zero online presence.

No, not zero. She can explain that.

Hold on, before you start growing her. So we have a great community, Eric, because you’re part of that group. They’re dying. They’re begging for Tanya to join the group. And she has joined the group because I made her join, but she won’t go on. She won’t go on and interact. She’s allergic to networking, which is hilarious.

But we’re going to find out after the fact that she’s probably been there the whole time. It was some other thing. It’s probably like, Dude West.

Babe West.

I’m so much like Wayne. It’s not even funny from the show. Like, I’m a person to person. Like, phone me. Mat tried sending me a bunch of messages, and I think after the fifth messages, I’m like, Screw this, call. I’m like, what’s going on? What do you need? I’m like, at work, I have a thousand emails a week, and it’s just so overwhelming on the computer all the time. And I’ve never been interested in the tech world. I would rather see somebody and sit with them and talk to them than look at Facebook pictures of what is going on in their life. I’ve not ever connected to people that way.

She doesn’t follow.

The whole thing of living your best timeline. You know what’s better about living your best timeline? Actually fucking living your best timeline like living it, not living it through the camera.

I think when the whole wave of cell phones, like I’m gonna sound real old. But when the wave came through and I disconnected for three years, I was home. When we had our daughter, I was home with her. And there’s just not a whole lot of time. There’s so many things that need to get done in a day, and I just never found the energy or the time to get on and connect with people that way. I was just picking up the phone and calling people.

You also have a bit of an addictive personality.

I do have.

What happens when she does get hooked onto something is she spends way too much time.

I can be very obsessive.

She’s in it to win it at that point.

Yeah. If you’re a fan of Fred Flintstone, you’ll know that reference. But I’m on the oldest of the bunch, so I’m the only one here who will understand that. Maybe a handful of listeners. But you see people at concerts and it’s like the same as if I was doing this podcast and I was doing this the whole time. It’s better. Like, I used to yell at people. I’m like, you know the show’s there, right? Like, not up there. You’re watching it through a three-inch screen. I don’t care if it’s bloody nickelback. Watch the fucking show. You’ve got eyes. You’re going to remember this. You’re never going to watch it. It’s like a wedding video. No one goes back to watch it.

[00:36:35.190] – Squirrely Mat
Yeah, it’s true. I definitely don’t hold up the whole time. And I go to concerts, I often will take a moment, catch a couple of moments. But even recently, I went back through my phone need to clean up some space. And I think every single concert video, especially I deleted, I’m like, that was cool. But watching it back, I’m like, it doesn’t take you there like you thought it would. It’s a memory, but the memory is the better part and you just want to hold on to that.

If you want to see footage again, just go to YouTube and watch the professionally shot.

Yeah, it’s all there.

Or one of the 1200 other idiots who’ve got their phone in their hand. Right. Like it’s going to be out there. I can understand at one point where it was a rarity to be the camera and to have the online presence and to build an audience. I’m going to bite myself by the fact that I’m answering the question of why people do it. Right. Because they want to be creators, they want to have something. But it’s more like, I’m with you, Mat. This idea that capture a snippet may be posted up on Twitter or whatever, but then that’s it. Enjoy the rest of the experience. It would be like having your kids chasing your kids around with nothing but a video camera. I take videos of the kids I don’t trust. I got four kids. I got to remember some of the early days. Right. But you put it down, right? You enjoy that and then you put it away. Some people say they wish they’d taken more. I’m like you’re saying that ten years later you got a memory.

Yeah.

Well, it’s even like in the photo side of things as I was clearing it through. It’s a whole exercise. I need to make a lot of space. I used up all the memory of my phone. And I started deleting all these scenery photos as well. And some of them were quite nice. And I’m like, but then I thought about it. I’m like, some of the places are like downtown Toronto or when I was in New Orleans and things like that. I’m like, yes, very cool. But that same photo has been taken a million times over. So if I really want it, I can Google it because like you said earlier, we have access to everything these days. And there it is. I don’t need to store it as a photo. If I’m in the photo or my wife and I are in the photo, very different story. You can hold onto those because that shows you are there. It takes you to get to that moment, but just generic photos of buildings. I’m not a photographer, so it’s not like I’m building a portfolio here. It’s a cool concept, but they don’t hold up over time.

And if I want it, like I said, I can go find it online and I’ll be just as happy.

Now. The one thing that we should really get back to, the origin of the podcast itself and the content. Letter Kenny is one of those shows that has become anything like this corner gas Letter Kenny. There’s a few that are so Canadian, but then they make it beyond, right? And when I grew up, it was CTV, right? That was the whole thing of watching stuff like that and 3D movies. It’s like this goofy things that you remember about that even. So, this is a funny story. I had a friend who her apartment was John Candy’s apartment on Roehampton Avenue. In it’s right its Eglington. It’s 100 Roehampton. And it was the one where they tossed the TVs off the balcony for the opener. That apartment is 100 Roehampton Avenue. And they’re very local things because, of course, we’re Canadian. We didn’t have much choice. You had Uncle Bobby, you had the Friendly Giant, and then you had whatever Canadian television you watched.

House of Freightenstein was one of my…

And Billy Van is actually like an incredible creator as far as other things he did just sort of an underwhelming presence in the industry, but he did a lot behind the scenes. You see, look at this idea of these Canadian, purely Canadian shows. And then now they go beyond like, I can find it on Hulu. I live in the United States and I can watch Letter Kenny on there. And I see random things on Reddit. Like, I think I told you guys I was searching for something for a space reference, and I wanted to get a picture of Roberta Bondar. And so what do I get? I’m scrolling through Reddit and I see this thing and it says, here’s a picture of Roberta Bondar underneath it. Was she sitting at the bar, crushing old fashioned. When you took this photo. So a Letter Kenny reference being written randomly on Reddit. He realized that these shows have a community and they have a reach that’s farther. And then you choose to create a thematic podcast. So let’s talk about the format of the podcast and what drew you to that style.

Well, like, I kind of mentioned a bit in my intro. It’s an after show. So just like other after shows, first of all, I talk about our weeks, and then I do a bit of a synopsis of episode recovering, and then we talk about it. We critique the episode and what I like about it. Again, we have these different voices and characters. Tanya came in as she was the person who hated the show until she loved it. Victor is a curmudgeon still to this day. Mat’s the squirrely one, and I’m supposed to be the parental figure to try to keep everything allegedly. Often I lose control. But that’s cool because our listeners love it. But yeah, we take it off in 20 to 25 minutes show and we basically make 2 hours of content about it, which is insane. But for the most part, people have really been responding to it.

Well, you really treat it like a morning show. Like I almost said Morning Zoo. But really that idea of a collaborative group of folks that talk about what happened the night before, like recapping the news and that’s like the opinion and the fun stories out of it are what makes that stuff fun. That’s why Humble and Fred did well, better between the music than they did during the music. And eventually when they started their podcast, which is actually one of the early sort of successful Canadian podcasts, because there wasn’t much of a podcast industry at that time. It was Mark Marin, who are the other guys. But it was like seriously, the early players in the game.

American Life, Prairie Home Companion, kind of the CBC and NPR podcast. But then you’re Mark Marin, you’re Kevin Smith’s smodcast, Adam Corolla, those are some early pioneers.

And that was funny. Back early on, there was a guy that found and bought up the patent rights to the idea of distributing an audio over RSS. So basically a podcast, and he went and bought up a bunch of patents and then sued all of Adam Corolla network, Mark Marin, Kevin Smith, all these folks to try and basically just see if you can get some cash out of it. Didn’t pay out because they’re like, you’ve got the concept, but you don’t get the content. And it was an interesting sort of legal challenge that happened

He was claiming ownership over the standard over the RSS.

Yeah, because he was saying that I owned so I should get a piece of royalty of everything that creates revenue based on the technology that I own a patent for.

Yeah, that’s like somebody trying to collect patent on HTML. It’s not going to happen. Every single website that ever existed would have to pay you a royalty because you have a website. That’s ridiculous.

It’s surprising how lucrative an industry it is because people like Rim just sold off a bunch of their old patents. And this is like all this company that bought them does is buy up thousands of patents and then ultimately look for licensing deals out of it. And actually, I know a few people that do it legitimately where they’ll license their patent because somebody says there’s no novel way to do what you’ve identified doing other than the way you’ve identified. Can we license your patent to do it? So it’s a weird thing that happens behind the scenes. I love this idea that you went with this after show, where did some of the concepts, the poem.

Our very first episode and the one we’ve actually marked as You Can Skip. This was our production meeting for the rest of the podcast. I recorded it because basically I brought everyone into a Zoom call and I said, okay, we’re going to do this. Let’s put some ideas out there. There are no bad ideas. Can’t get too precious. You try something and if it doesn’t work, you have to be ready to let it go. But yeah, it’s just evolved, right? It’s been an evolution. And the limerick happened maybe halfway through. And I think it happened because one of the cold opens on Letter Kenny was started with limericks, and then I started writing them for ours because it just made sense. So called Letter Kenny, he opened it with a Limerick, of course, and it’s been great in the Mat reading them and stuff. And now again, the community is amazing because there’s so much prep that goes into it. And almost the very last thing I do before we start recording is write the limerick. And it’s always a source of stress for me because..

All the pressure is on.

There isn’t a lot of stuff that you can rhyme with Letter Kenny or Djens or anyway. But now some of our listeners have stepped in and they’re writing them for us. So we’re almost like crowdsourcing now, a lot of our content, which is great. I love it.

Yeah, you’re not wrong. I mean, we talk about the community. I think I commented earlier, but that’s been the biggest surprise of this whole thing. It started off as a fun game, fun thing to do every week. And then we did invite a few people early on. So every third or fourth episode we might have a guest. And then at one point hit where we just had a line up and where at first it became sort of a fun little add on. It now became an ongoing absolute part of our show where we’re inviting our friends, I’m going to call them friends. We have made real relationships with many of these people onto the show to join in on the fun with us because that’s what this show. And if you’re a fan of Letter Kenny, the show is all about community, right? Everyone a lot of different people coming together in a show that may have differences here and there. But the end of the day, they all care about each other. They’re all this big sense of community. And all the people we met around the show who love it with us, all bring that to the table as well.

There are some amazing people out there. This show really does bring out a real interesting and awesome group of people that follow it and enjoy it, and we’ll continue to do so. We’re very thankful for all that as well. It’s now one of our favorite elements. I know I Ping out every week, oh, who’s joining us this week? Who’s joining us? And if I don’t know, I’m like, oh, yeah, someone new. And if it’s a repeat, like, I already know what to get ready for, and I get excited about it. So it’s one of my favorite elements is who’s joining us?

Some of Twitter, too.

It’s like rip notifications. You all have the most chatty, awesome DM group that goes on.

I did go on Twitter at one point, and I am on it. And I think in one day I think it was like only a couple of hours. And then I went and looked and I’m like, there’s 400 messages. I’m like, how on Earth does someone like, this is a full time job? I don’t have time to go through this many messages. Oh, my gosh.

And most of the conversation has nothing to do with Letter Kenny. There’s a full, active conversation right now happening about possums it appears. So it goes all over the map, but it’s all entertaining. It’s all in good fun. And sometimes it goes serious. Sometimes it just is banter. And I can’t keep up, though.

The amazing thing about that is what a difference of I can obviously choose my podcast as a different example of. I started mine through work, and I was like, hey, it’s a selfish reason for me to just try it out as a platform. Like, it’ll be fun. I got a bunch of nerd friends. I can have a nerd conversation, but get the story behind the tech, get the story behind the person and why they did something. I’ve always been enticed by the storytelling aspect. And then at one point they said, I probably saw the email somewhere saying, it doesn’t look like it’s actually leading to anything in pipeline revenue. So let’s just not spend time on this. All right? So I did a couple more, and then I was like, all right, I’ll just let it go. And all of a sudden, like three, four months later, I went and I looked on itunes. For some reason, I was searching something like, oh, I forgot. Probably got this podcast up there. I should check to see what the last episode was and I looked and there was comments and they said, I love the conversational style of the show or something like that.

And I was like, oh, man, I got to do it again. I got to keep it going because there’s someone listening, there’s somebody out there that’s going, like, refreshing their thing, going, Where’s the next episode? I’m like, all right. And I kind of committed to it. And that interaction was what made it gave me a reason to do it. And now, obviously, I’m a couple of hundred further in and it’s growing. But if I had a DM group, they would be me and maybe my wife. Don’t give a crap about this podcast to talk about it on a real time basis, but you’re the community side of what you do. Like I said, it really harkens back to that message board, super active collegial thing. And like you said, Matt, you could talk about anything. I love watching the random, like, these sort of non-sequitur things just show up and all of a sudden there’s a stream of like, what’s the right way to shave a Possum’s belly before you take it for its operation? Whatever bizarre thing. And then there’s somebody that’s got a real like, oh, yeah, I had to do this last year.

All walks of life are represented.

I always knew we had to form a community for the podcast to grow, right? Like, without a community, it’ll just be us yelling into the void, and maybe one or two people might listen. But the interesting thing, too, is the tool used for the community. Twitter dm isn’t exactly a community tool. It’s one on one, maybe a few on a few chat function at best. We have 75 people. We’ve maxed out our DM group. We can’t have anymore. We’d have to kick somebody off in order to add somebody on. And so there’s always been like, oh, maybe we should move this to a discord or something like that. But we tried that and it failed. People don’t want the immediacy of Twitter because it’s already on an app on your phone and you’re getting your notifications right away. For some reason that lends to the discussion because now you don’t have to log onto an app to post something. It’s Twitter. You have it with you all the time. It’s almost like an ongoing conversation wherever you go. And you just go on and answer whatever the latest question was, and you don’t have to worry about what thread you were.

Also, I don’t have to read all that.

No, you really don’t.

You don’t have to feel daunted about that.

A little add going, ok 400, let’s take this 1 hour at a time.

But if you accidentally tap it twice, it goes to the bottom. You’re like, oh, I missed a lot of conversations. I got to scroll back up and find my starting point.

And that’s great. Whatever like there are those, I mean, I try to because it’s always good to know what’s going on in that community. But if I log on and there’s like 400 messages and then a lot of it’s like deep cuts on Star Wars lore or some shit like that, which I’m not really interested in, I’ll just skip it. It’s no problem. They’re having fun with each other. No one’s fighting, no one’s misbehaving. So we just move on. But it’s funny, we hit a critical mass on Twitter DM, so I’m like, maybe we should move it to Discord. No one wants to.

Can you call the Twitter people and ask them for more?

Get an edit button. Just give me a larger DM groups like that true community type of aspect.

It makes you wonder too, if ever they decided to add maybe a threading function in your DM or whatever, would that be better or not? Is there something about the restrictive nature of a DM group that makes it work more entertaining? Maybe.

I don’t know, because it’s just weird.

And I think it’s platform of immediacy. Twitter for this type of interaction is like bike theft. It’s a crime of opportunity. You walk by, you see an undone chain hanging over a bike frame, you get on the goddamn bike and you ride like you stole it. So when you think of Twitter, it’s like I’m there doing other things. So I just tap that tab and I’m on there versus going to Discord. Now if you’re a developer or a gamer. And the reason why Discord is uper popular, my hypothesis of why it’s super popular with developers is because a large community of developers are also gamers. And Discord is a place, so they at night are on Discord. So they love like, why not just leave it running all day long and next thing there’s developer communities.

We have a 15 year old son and he’s got three monitors and one of his monitors is always on Discord. That’s the way he communicates with his friends. It’s a different mindset for I say younger people, but I know I am on Discord, but I don’t log on very often.

This is the funny thing. Every once in a while if I talk about my age with people that I didn’t grow up with, I don’t care. When I talk about you, I’m like, God damn it, now I remember everything. We’re actually old. This sucks. But it is amazing to think of that. And it used to at one point be, I want you to get real friends, right? And I remember even my oldest son, he’s 19. And this idea that getting told, like, I wish you would go out and find real friends and said, well, if you bring four of his friends together, they’re going to bring their laptops with them and sit in the room on Skype and game anyways. So why not let them do it wherever they are? And it became a practice of doing it and that’s why I think, like, podcasting, as a pattern of consumption, is such a popular place now because people can get it on demand. They can turn it on or off, they can download what they want, they can binge it, they can listen in the car. And I’ve been told over and over again, like, well, going long form will bury your podcast listenership because they said at 20 minutes, people have their attention goes like, well, that’s if you’re like, pitching or doing something, like, I’m having a conversation. You just get in or out whenever you want.

And I used to tell people, do you read books? Yeah. Do you read it from end to end? No. Well, how do you do that? How could you possibly put it down in chapter two, he’s like, Sorry, kids, you got to eat. Too bad I’m in chapter four, right? I got to keep going. You put it down. Your brain is the capability. And I found that it’s actually been better because the freedom of having no gap of, like, I’ve got to hit this time frame. I like that freedom.

Even early on, some of my favorite comments from listeners were always around, listening to your show, it’s like hanging out with a bunch of our friends, and they just wanted to be. And they felt like they knew us and they felt like they could see themselves sitting and hanging out and having the same conversation, which is probably part of why we invited them in anyways and said, well, hey, come join us. And that’s part of where I think a lot of it’s grown from. People just feel part of our discussions.

Yeah. The campfire sort of aspect of it, it really does feel just like a bunch of friends hanging around a table. Even though you’re physically separated, you really do sense that you’re sitting across from each other. You have the ability, especially over time, to get the queues of who’s going to jump in. And Zoom is the only thing that Zoom is a bit of a drag. And I’m sorry, I’m domain to trash Zoom just because I’m using signal wire. But the reason why I actually did this platform that I use is because it does multiplex audio. So if all four of us, like, all three cameras, started chatting at the same time, it all goes through.

Oh, really?

And the weird thing, though, is Zoom has trained us like idiots to be like a 1920s telephone system where one signal goes through, okay, pull that cable, go to the next one. As soon as you hear somebody talking, we all stop. Yeah, right. And it goes. It’s like Wayne and McMurray. Yeah. The advantage with this is that and Zoom is getting better, I think, where they allow more cross talk now, but it used to be really bad. We have, like, company meetings and people say, like, we’re going to welcome all the new recruits. Right. You got a bunch of new hires. Okay, everybody come off mute and let’s give them a round of applause. There’s 400 people, but only one of them gets the audio.

One of the early bread ideas we had from our production meeting was Victor is a really good guitarist. And we thought, oh, he could play a little guitar in the background while we’re talking about something. I forget what it was, and we tried it. And of course, Zoom doesn’t allow that. It gates. Like, if we’re talking, you can’t hear Victor playing, and if he’s playing for sure, that one didn’t last very long.

The only thing that I wish we had as far as this, like, for your show, is that idea that you could literally, everything should be commercially viable because you have such a fantastic group of people and a beautiful way of really being together and to actually see you folks sitting in a room. And I just wish you could get paid to do that because you do a great job of it. Right. One day. Exactly.

You can pay us a little bit more. And we’ll do well.

Talk about an avid community. As the co owner of Diabolical Coffee, you all contribute a lot to my success. I’ve actually got quite a few folks that are coming through the produce stand that are buyers. And it’s cool.

I mean, this sound a surprise, really. It’s working, though, showing any your commercial is the best.

Yeah. So this is the funny thing. People always wonder about sponsorships. Look, I’ve got sponsors, and I feel bad having them sometimes because the thing like, no one’s going to buy stuff because they listen to my goofy show. Right. But in the end, it actually does create awareness. And so the psychology of advertising is not about, I heard about a thing, quick, pause it, let me go buy that thing. But your community is very strong, and they do support brands that you mentioned and stuff like that, which is cool. And I see you got a couple of TPS hats there, which are very cool.

I love that. My favorite hat.

It’s fun to support. And trust me, if I made more money, you’d make more money. That’s the only problem. Your support is only limited by my revenue.

We appreciate all like the support you given us, Eric. I mean, we’re buds from before, but at the same time, it was great. It’s been great to have you on, and hopefully we continue as Shoresy starts up. I don’t know how big a story that is down there, but up here we can’t wait.

That’s going to be wild. Now, here’s the interesting thing. I think you and I may talk about this early on. At one point, I said, you’ve got a team, you’ve got a method, you’ve got a knack, you’ve got all the right things. In kind of the way that a salesperson can go from working for podunk widgets and then they can go and work for whiffle whaffle widgets, or even better, they can switch and they can sell cars or real estate. If you have the practice and the method, you can apply it to any industry. And so I’ve always listened to you as a group, as individuals, and think this is bigger than Letter Kenny. You have much more to bring. And I do hope that you kind of go, that you can find another thing that you can do, because as a group, you just keep grinding it out. As a guy that’s been grinding for a long time, I don’t know that it’s been worth anything more than having the fun of it. Right. But I’m seeing other benefits that are coming now, and you are all too good to stop because Letter Kenny stops.

Well, thank you. Appreciate that.

In a year and a half for almost two years, it will be two years in July. So maybe we’ve missed what, one week, two weeks? I mean, I’ve missed more time at my actual paying job than.

So true. And the other hilarious thing is if we’ve got such a defined schedule, if we shift things around, which is often my fault, we get yelled at by people saying like, oh, so I guess there’s nothing to listen to Friday morning, right? They get upset. I say upset, but it’s become a very comical thing. And Al gives them lots of notice as much as he can to say, hey, govern yourselves accordingly. We’re moving things around this week.

There is always that kind of reluctance, because without Letter Kenny, it’s the produce stands. We could talk about it. Sorry there’s an echo there. I don’t know if you’re getting it or not.

All clear here luckily.

Anyway. It’s called the Protestant, so really, I mean, it’s kind of only tangentially tied to Letter Kenny, so we could just continue doing it on other topics. The fear for me anyway, because we don’t want our feet to go stale. We want to make sure whatever we pick won’t alienate many of our regular listeners to go away. You know what I mean, right? Sure. He’s a good bet, because it’s a spin off from Letter Kenny, and there’s a lot of excitement happening there. So hopefully that happens in short time. Season eleven will launch, so maybe we have another runway of hopefully three or four months that we can continue doing this. But yeah, then the real work is going to start. What do we do next? What are the ideas? We need to get really creative with it for sure?

Well, if you think of the TPS report, right, almost as a joke of the office based thing, you could carry that through. And whether it’s commentary on anything, the tough part, which is weird because I’m an older fellow, I’ve got a reputation to preserve, and I’ve got a couple of nephews who are fantastic podcasters. The first thing they did was they got into, like, politics. I’m like, I can’t touch it because you want to be careful that you don’t ultimately alienate a big segment of your audience. So I’m very generic. I don’t talk about politics or religion or anything. And maybe it’s a Canadian thing too. We just steer clear of that stuff. But.

Doing some movie reviews or whatever, I had a notion that maybe we can review pilots, like during pilot season and then apply our kind of rating system and then see what shows will last. But I mean, even that’s different now because there’s no such thing as a network floating a pilot anymore. And then maybe they’ll pick it up now it’s like a whole season will get dropped. And then if they like it, you’ll continue. Right. So I don’t know, it’ll be interesting to see for sure. It’s a good problem to have now.

Oh, yeah, that’s it. And maybe you could go to the community in a way and kind of say like, hey, we’re going to test out an episode or test out a concept. And it could be whether it’s an Internet show or something that you pick and switch up the content and breaking it down. Look at me like, think of movies, Matt. Look at your background, right? That idea where you see something you’re like, I totally get it. Like a cold open. What the Hell’s a cold open, right? Just explain to people. Break down the format of a show. And my favorite thing, although you mentioned the right thing, though, forget about the pilot. But even just season one, episode one, just call it TPS. E. One. The best of every show is episode one always goes downhill after that. One of my favorite shows was Eastbound and down. Hilarious show, yes. But the moment that I watched the first one, I was like, I don’t know if I want to watch the second one because that was so God damn funny. And so it’s like Lost. Like if you watch Lost beyond the first few shows, shit goes sideways fast, right? And that’s why they ended up with all these bad threads, because they started to write for the audience, not for the story. That’s why I love The Wire. They’re like, we’re done. We wrote the end when we wrote the first episode, and we’re just going to film in towards it. So like, picking stuff like a first episode of something and saying, why did it work? And where did it break down? The jump, the Shark, episode two. Like that idea of oh, boy, let’s talk about why this one broke down.

When aliens visited. That’s when they lost it there.

Even if I look at YouTubers now and I’ve got young kids as well as older kids. And so I watch a lot of these goofy YouTube creator shows, and they’re like Vlad and Nikki and little Diana, and you’d see someone, they’re multimillionaires doing these YouTube enterprises. And then my wife and I were joking because you see a bunch of them that have, like, two kids and they’ll have, like, a five year run of content, and all of a sudden there’s a baby and you’re like, oh, that’s like the kid that showed up on Family Ties. They just added a new character, and it’s going to go Sharks now. But do what you do. You’re really good at it. And for people that don’t already subscribe, go check it out. It’s the produce stand. You can find it online. And I hope to see you all on YouTube, because I think as far as production capability, you’ve got the technical chops to deliver it. And I think it would be fun. Like, I’m living vicariously through your capabilities because I have no idea what I’m doing, and I’m just hammering ahead.

You got some cool-ass gear there that I wish I could use.

But it’s getting there.

We’re just getting a Victor a better mic. Yeah.

Victor is the only one. Every time I see him, he’s, like, in a train station and cappascasing or he’s always, like, dial in from somewhere remote.

It always seems like he’s struggling with unicorn.

It’s by design. Like, Tanya was saying, he has a better mic. He just refuses to use it. It’s a little frustrating, but I think it has to curmudgeon in nature. I think people like that about them. I don’t know.

The diversity of voices is really neat, which gives people a chance to do it. But now the fun part is, like, in four years, when do you all break up as a team? Be like, oh, now you’re competing against each other, right? So there you go. For folks that do want to find you Al, give them all the socials. Where do we track down the produce stand and see what’s next?

I try to make it as easy as possible. It’s @producestandpod everywhere. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, even TikTok – @producestandpod. And if you want to join our DM group, it would have to mean that we’d have to kick somebody out.

This is a special members only club.

We still try to have as much fun as we can on Twitter. And every once in a while we do our AG hall socials. So not next week, but the following week will be one of our AG hall socials. And that’s when we invite any of our listeners to join us on a Zoom call. And this one’s extra special because it’s our 100th episode. And what we’ve got planned is we’ve asked our listeners to come with clips of their favorite moments of the previous 99 episodes. And we have no idea what’s going to be played. So they’re going to play them, and we’re going to react to them, and it’s going to be hijinks are going to ensue. I hope that is awesome.

There you go. TPS reacts. That’s your new YouTube channel. Get on it. I want to see you all become successful. Further success, right. You’re already successful and that you’ve really done a great thing. So it’s great to see and just the fact that we can do this and fit it into our day and it’s fun, it’s just fun. That’s success in my mind, right? I love doing this stuff. All right, crew. And for all the folks that do want to check it out. Of course, like I said, check out the podcast and I was lucky enough I was a guest on a couple of them. You can hunt it down and check out Letter K too. It’s a wicked cool show. Please do it. So there you go, pitter patter. Let’s get at her.