Good People, Cool Things
Good People, Cool Things

Episode 31 · 2 years ago

31: How to Run a Business and Lessons in Sword Fighting with Ray Blakney

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ray Blakney has built multiple six and seven-figure businesses without any kind of cash — boot-strapping at its finest! Learn about his entrepreneurial experience, what lessons in sword fighting have taught him, and why you shouldn't start a business.

Welcome the good people, cool things, the podcast featuring conversations with entrepreneurs, writers, musicians and other creatives. I'm your host, Joey held, and today's guest is Ray Blakeney, who has built, run and sold six and seven figure businesses for the last fourteen years. We're talking a chocolate factory in Asia, live Lingua, the third largest online language school, twidjuct, a social network with two hundredzero users, and he's working on a fascinating products called podcast Hawk, which is a service that will help people get booked on podcast interviews. Don't like this one? Hey, hey, we're networking all over the place. Raised in all of this without any venture capital or loans or anything like that. And just because, if that's not enough, he's also traveled all over the world, grew up in lots of different places. He's a former US peace corps volunteer and a competitive sword fighters. We're talking about all different kinds of great stuff in here. If you've ever wanted to create a business or learn more just about the whole entrepreneurial side of things, ray has got you covered. There's lots of great stuff in here. If you like to get in touch with the show. You can do so in a couple different ways. Reach out via email joey at good people, Cool Thingscom, or follow the show at Gpct podcast, on facebook and twitter. Of course, you can always buy some merch at good people cool thingscom. Shot APP. Now let's chat with Ray. All Right, Ray, I'm going to try a new bed out with you, so I hope you're hope you're ready for us. Good. I have been asking people to just kind of give me their elevator pitch, but we want to dive a little deeper. So I want you to describe the elevator that were on and then tell me all about you. That sounds good. So the elevator were on is one of those old bronze elevators where you kind of have those kind of screen doors you got to pull to the side when you get inside and then the buttons are kind of those black buttons on a bronze kind of button thing, so you kint to push them in there, really kind of old school, and when you go up it's like totally open on all the sides, so you actually see the stairs kind of doing a spiral around you as you're kind of going up to your floor. And ICE, and I'll be honest, that was the elevator to my apartment in Turkey when I was growing up, which is a Segue to my elevator pitch. So my here's my ten cent tour and I'll try to keep it short because I tend to be verbose. I am a Filipino American. My Dad's from the US, my mother's from the Philippines. I was born in the Philippines when my dad was a Peace Corp volunteer in the Philippines. At eleven months old I moved to Turkey. I spent the next fifteen years there. Turkish's my first language. Fifteen years old, moved back to the US, the Boston Massachusetts area. Stayed there for two years, went to college in Ohio, stuck around worked I for I'm a computer programmer by training. Did the fortune five hundred companies, that Silicon Valley startups for a few years. Got Bored what thought there was more to life, so I joined the Peace Corps as well. At Twenty eight years old, got sent to southern Mexico where I worked in indigenous communities, helping them out there, but also writing some computer systems. Met My wife, who was also Peace Corps staff from Mexico and that led me into starting my own business as afterwards. My first two businesses I started with my wife. Fantastic. Where's? Where's your favorite place that you've lived, that I've lived? Well, depends on the phases you are in your life. Right I will no offense, but Ohio is not one of them. So I was there for a while. I like, that's not going to make the list. I really loved where I was stationed the Peace Corps, but a lot of I think you got everybody a relate where you live as a lot to do the memories you built. They're not necessarily with a physical place your you are right. So San Cristo Bad de Las Casas. It was in in the mountains in southern Mexico. Everybody thinks Mexico was hot. I did as well. So I show up there with my shorts and Tshirt and it is like, you know, twenty five degrees outside. I'm mad. It was freezing. There was frost. You know, we're sevenzero feet in the air, like higher up in Colorado. I was really cool. But it's beautiful green mountains up there, waterfalls and I you know, city of about a hundred eighty thousand people. Very active, indigenous, you know, community there,...

...but also very international because it's kind of known. So there was like an Argentinian restaurant, was an Indian restaurant, all the rest of it. While I was there as well. Really really enjoyed living there. I did enjoy growing up in Istanbul, Turkey. I have a lot of wonderful memories there as well. So I would put those two places. Probably is my favorite place to live. Wonderful. Yeah, it's stumbles on my list. I hear nothing but great things. So I went back one day doing here. Well, again, exactly like it's changed a lot. That's up in there apparently, but yeah, I still have great memories down there. The fantastic, fantastic. So I do want to get to all of Your Business and entrepreneurial guidance, but first I need to know, because you are a competitive sword fighter, and what what does that entail? How did you get into that? What? What's The career highlight of me? Yeah, well, actually I was about national team. Would be the career highlights to it. So there's my sword fighting. Is I practice of the Japanese martial art called Kendo, which is to simplify it, Japanese fencing, but it's a lot more full contact than European fencing. I did do European fencing for two years before that, but with Kendo you essentially have these big wooden swords. You look like you're dressed up like a football, American football player, with the kind of year you have on, because and even then you're going to be covered in welts and it hurts when they hit you. And that's it. And I've been doing it now for seventeen years. So I was competitive back when I was in my Twenti S. I'm not my twenties anymore, so I'm still decent. But yeah, I mean, you know, you you're just not as fast as you were, you know, back at your so is that kind of the peak of most fencing careers is in the s and then it's just kind of well, it is in the kind of international competition. But the thing about Kendo is it's one of the few martial arts people practice their entire lives. So they actually have different divisions for like the three thousand and forty and sixty year olds, and the way it works and this Kendo is actually I love the philosophy it has for life. In and Kendo there are only four moves in the entire martial art. For the most part, there are four attacks. There are no defenses. You don't block because the philosophy behind blocking is if I attack you and you block, there's only two possible outcomes. Either I break your block and I win, or you don't block in time and I win. So why you're going to teach something where the best outcome is that the other person you know the best outcome is that you keep them from winning, but you don't actually do anything. So what they teach you do is attack when you're attacked and since it's fencing, you kind of have to gain the center. So if you both attack the same time and you're stronger, the other persons will be deviated and you'll kind of go straight in right. So you don't ever defend in Kenda. But my sense as have been practicing for forty or fifty years and there's some of them I know I'm stronger than they are looking. I mean I six foot tall, one hundred ninety pounds, are work out every morning in the gym, but I still can't break their center. In their experience so it's this kind of martial art where you know you can do it your entire life and you can still be, up to a point, competitive. They're not going to compete in there. You know the nationals. I got my butt kicked in the nationals in the first round. I mean the Internet, the national and when we went to Japan to compete. I mean, you know I'm decent for the US, but you go against the real professionals who've been doing since they were ten, I go they wipe the floor with me, but it's teaches you a lot about life and about business. Right, you spend your entire life practicing for things and becoming a really good Adam probably going good at one or two of them. The other ones you just need to be passing right at the other those attacks. They're just not your not your strength, and you wake up every morning and you for you know, you just try to get better at that. There's no magic trick, there's no silver bullet, there's nothing. You know. It's not like if you watch you know that one attack that see, you know the karate kick kid, you know crane kick, the pizza. There's there's no such thing right. It's just getting these things right and I think that taught me a lot about life. I'm a lot more disciplined as a result of it. Business is the same life as the same with your relationships. You know, it's not about being great one day. It's about just waking up every morning, putting the practice, putting in the effort, and I think that's candles taught me all of that. I love that and I this is a very obscure tangent, but I've been playing a lot of jackbox lately. I don't know if you've dabbled it all, but the Trivia Murder Party where one of the this...

...for listeners that have not played Jackbox, essentially it's a trivia game. If you get an answer wrong, you play a mini game and have a chance to stay alive. Otherwise you're a little voodoo puppet gets brutally killed. It's wonderful. Highly recommend but one of the Games is there's a pile of money on the floor and you can either or no, I'm sorry, that's that's another one. That's the same kind of thing. The other one is you both have swords and you both have shields and you can either choose to both attack or to defend. And there I forget exactly how the game does, and I think it's like someone has to die, like that's the rule. It's like if someone has to and if you both block, he just pick someone and if you both attack, he just pick someone to win. But there's like no benefit to blocking, because it's like either the other person's gonna Block and you'll attack and it's like, oh, this person was cowardly, so like wow, or if you both attack and you have a chance of making it. That's exactly and that's usually how it is in life. Just, you know, attacking up, being on the offensive, and I don't mean it in like a violent way. We're not trying to take out the mailman like anything like that. Yeah, exactly. I'm like, yeah, you don't go swing a sword into your local neighborhood or anything, but you know, keeping an eye out for opportunity and then jumping on it. If you look at it that way, is a great lesson for life, because a lot of the people who succeed it's a matter of jumping on it opportunities that they see in the people who fail are those who don't jump on the opportunities that they see I found that in business. I found that, you know, in life as well. It's not you know, opportunities come. We can always control those, but we can't control how ready we are when we see and it sounds like you've done that pretty regularly throughout your business now, a decade and a half of building and yeah, I feel holy businesses. It's experienced, experienced. Yeah, that's that's it. That's that. I like position. Yeah, I need to keep that in mind for the future interviews. Right out experience, I am a wise behind my ears. So you you've had a lot of experience with this. How did you get into building and then selling businesses? And I imagine again, there's a lot of opportunities that you cease to make all this happen. Yeah, so before getting into the business side, we'll talk about those opportunities. Right. So one of the things I always repeat, as I always think, they're two types of entrepreneurs in the world. The first type is the visionary, and that's the kind most of us romanticize and kind of read about in the books. Right, the guy who invented Steve Jobs in front of the IPHONE. We didn't even know we need it. The iphone but now we do need the iphone. Elon Musk right, you know, moonshot kind of entrepreneurs and visionaries. I'm not one of those. I'm the second kind of entrepreneur, which is the person who sees a need or, as we've been calling it, an opportunity, looks for a solution, doesn't find it and says hey, instead of giving up, it's like up. Well, there's no way to do that. I build it. That is the way I've been doing entrepreneurship over the years, and the beauty of it is the kind of more businesses you build, the more needs you see and the more opportunities there are. So you know, just by taking the first step as an entrepreneur, you're kind of on that journey and even if your first business fails, you probably there might be a reason to fail because, no, you were missing this one piece because, you know, to connect, you weren't able to find the clients through Linkedin, for example, right, so use at the time there was nothing to do it. So you built that way. So your next business is building what you were missing. And then if you were missing a chances are somebody else's needs that as well. So that's kind of how a lot of the business opportunities come up. So for me it was exactly that journey. So, since I was a kid, everybody always said I was going to be an entrepreneur and I never believe them. I was that. I'm like no, I liked computers. I'm like, I'm going to be a computer programmer. That's what I'm going to be. One of older but I'd be that kid at the bake sales at school where that, you know, they would give me their cakes the cell because I'd be like yeah, come on over and make these ridiculous stories about it and, you know, if their cake was messed up, I like this cake is straight from Chernobyl. As you know, back then I was living in Turkey and Chernobyl, I I had actually happened. I'm like a radiation there. I'm selling it at a bargain, you know, and I would actually sell all...

...the slices of the cake and everybody's like Ray, one day you're going to own million dollar business, and I'm like we be talking about I love computers. I'm going to be a program so I never really thought much about it. So I went to college study computer programming, Work Silicon Valley Fortune, five hundred companies as a computer program in the United States. But I remember I was twenty six years old and it was a commercial on TV for the US Navy. and I tell everybody I wouldn't, had no intention to join the navy. If somebody starts shooting at me, I am running the other way as fast as physically possible. But I love the saying in there and I use it as like a guiding post for my life right now. And they the saying was if they write a book about Your Life, will anybody want to read it? And I remember thinking at the time I was a computer programmer sitting in a cube writing code forty hours a week and I'm like yeah, on this path, I wouldn't read my own book. I mean, you know, I'm making a good salary, I'm comfortable, the company I work for is Great. They're not treating me badly. I don't hate my job, but I don't want to be look back on my life forty years down the road saying I worked at a job I didn't mind. That's it. I mean you know that that's pretty much all you can do. So literally a few weeks after that commercial came out, I went online and applied for a job in the Peace Corps. I know what the Peace Corps was because my dad was in the Peace Corps. I was born while he was in the Peace Corps. So, for those who don't know, Peace Corps a two year volunteer opportunity where you get to go to another country. They pay you peanuts. I made about two hundred a month, but for the local community you live in, it's actually probably gives you about a middle middle class life style for wherever you're living. And the idea is you kind of go and learn about a new culture, teach that culture about the American culture a little bit. Don't go there with the idea that I'm American and I know everything, but you know, just kind of so that they know what really an American is, because most of them never met one. They've seen it on TV. And then when you're done, you come back to the United States and you share the culture you learned about back in the United States. It's the whole point of this of the program was started by John F Kennedy. So I applied for that, quit my, you know, almost six figure job in the United States and started working for two hundred a month. Met My wife. She was Peace Corps staff, so she was one of the people who trained us to prepare to go out, you know, working for working in these communities, and when we were done, we were in our late S and we're like look, she'd always wanted to launch a Spanish school for training. As as a Spanish teacher. I'm like, yeah, let's do it. We're young, we're lucky that we you know, we get along great with our parents. Worst case scenario, it doesn't work, we move back in with our parents a few months. I'm a computer programmer, you're a bilingual teachers. She studied UTA. They in Austin exactly. So you know we'll get jobs. Will probably make solid six figures in the United States. That's the worst case scenario and that's really not that man right now. I mean, you know. So we did it and luckily it worked. The first business we launched was successful right away. The second business we launched, which is live Lingua, which came out of the first business, was also successful. Then I fail the whole Buny. You know, I feel a whole ton of times after that, but I found that I really love entrepreneurship and one of the things that I found out is, you know that whole follow your passion thing. Leep, yes, I totally believe in building your passion. You know, if you practice something and become good at it, it will become your passion. Going back to the Kendo thing, I always love martial arts as a kid because, you know, I was that skinny Asian kid in school who got picked last for the dodgeball team. I mean, I was really bad at sports. So I was fantasized when you saw those old cheesy Kung Fu movies. I want to be that guy. You know, there's always that kid who's beat up all the time and at the end, you know, the karate kid. So I kind of really love martial arts. But then I tried like five of them and I was really bad at all until I found Kendo and I kind of had a knack for it. So I'm like, okay, that's it, and I found and I practice and I now I love Kendo. I mean it's the one thing about covid I'm an introvert, so being at home all day is not really a big deal to me, but I miss practicing Kendo and you can't. You know, you can't social distance with the ideas to hit somebody else. Yeah, so you know exactly, and I found the same thing about entrepreneurship. It's not that I kind of went into the sink. I've always dreamed about being an entrepreneur. We already went over that right when I was ten. I'm like no, I want to be an entrepreneur. But now that I've been doing it for twelve years, it's my...

...sport. I could talk about it all day long. I love it. I you know, in my free time I will just think about different things to do business around marketing, HR copywriting. I mean that to me is just, you know, fascinating. But it was because I built that passion. It wasn't there when I started all this off, and you said that it was pretty immediately successful. We got lucky. Yeah, I mean I'll totally admit I'm for the first two businesses there was a little bit of luck, well, quite a bit of luck, like on any business is involved. First Business we launched was a brick and mortar language school in Mexico. So it was kind of a traditional school where Americans, Canadians primarily, some people from Europe would come down. We play some of the Mexican family and they study Spanish with us in the school. During the day. We'd have activities and tours and stuff like that. At night. I didn't have much of a business background. Again, my backgrounds engineering. I had a little bit of management. I was a team lead, so I kind of had knew how to manage small teams, but I knew nothing about marketing. So I'm like, look, we have no money. The only money we have is the twozero the Peace Corps gave me when I left, and that was supposed to be to buy a plane ticket back to the United States. That's all my wife and I had. So how do you market these things? Researched online and I found something called Seo. This is back two thousand and seven right. So I taught myself Seo over the next six months. By the time our school launched, we were number one in Mexico, because one thing I learned pretty early on is none of the other Spanish schools in Mexico even do what Seo was, and if they did, they didn't have a full time Seo on staff, which is what I was. So you know, by the time we opened our doors we were number one in the country. You want to come to Mexico to study Spanish, we'd be the first school you'd run across. The matter. What Keyword? Pretty much, you did a search for Google on what do people think? People think that if it's number one in Google's the best. So pretty much we were fully booked before we even launched. People would just be signing up for us. So the first day that we launched we had we had no money, remember, so, though, we would sleep in the school because we couldn't afford our own place. We rented out this old historic building in the town we rain ket at, though we couldn't afford furniture for all the rooms, so we we had an inflatable mattress which had a hole in it. So we would sleep and it would be inflated and we wake up on the floor. We'd roll it up put it under my office desk by seven am, because that's when the student started arriving. Then we would take, like, you know, our dinner table that we use the night before and we put it in a room and that's where people would have the classes. And we'd actually change where that table was in different rooms, and so the people would think we had multiple classrooms because we couldn't afford for tables, and that's how we started. But Luckily we got fully booked. People would pay us our deposit, you know, the twenty percent deposit. Pay The deposit. Let's go and buy a table. I'm heping. We could buy some tables and shares. So we did that. Me a day before they arrived, we'd be, you know, up to eleven o'clock at night getting in that classroom up in order because, you know, the classroom didn't didn't exist twenty four hours before you actually arrived. They didn't know that, but you know, the classroom did and that's how we built the school up eventually having three different branches around Mexico. That's fantastic, I think a great example of like the boots trapping mentality that you need to have. That's all I know how to do. You give me money to start a business, I wouldn't even know what to do with I have built multiple six and seven figure businesses. Every single one's bootstrapped. I've never taken alone or taken DC money. So is that moving the table around the school? Is that your your best example? I imagine you have lots of great examples. Of A boots trapping and action, since they're another one or two that you'd let share. Yeah, sure, so the next boots, and this goes back to what we've been talking about pretty much this whole interview. Right, it's looking for opportunities. So a year into the business we were doing pretty well, but, you know, not like we had a huge amount of savings. Brick and mortar businesses. Now I know because I've been an online business, the profit margin is much lower. Right, you got to pay a rent. Usually when you employ it's full time staffs, or we're talking about benefits, health and all the rest of it. Right online you can hire people's contractors and you can avoid a lot of these things. So a year into it, you know, we were making enough to live comfortably. In Mexico. It wouldn't have been a much of a salary. Probably been making like thirtyzero profit a year between both of us, but in Mexico that's a comfortable middle upper class lifestyle. And...

...then the swine flu hit. So you know swamp. For those who don't remember, the swine flu was supposed to be covid right now we know they closed Mexico off. No planes out, no planes in. So obviously our business shut down overnight. The only people who showed up are three doctors from the United States who thought the whole thing were overblown and they kind of stayed with us. But that wasn't even enough to pay the rent. So it was actually my wife who had the idea of saying, why don't we email all of our former students for the last year? They really loved our school. My wife is one of those in foreign teachers. You know, she when she was four years old, she would pretend to be a teacher with her dolls. So you know they knew she was going to be a teacher. So people loved our school and they're like, why do we contact them and see if they want classes over skype? Not Everybody knows what skype is busy. You know this two thousand six, two thousand and seven, but let's see if they want that. Maybe the computer engineer like, why would just throw a website just offer that in general to write. So we emailed it out. We got a great reception. So I'm like, I threw up this dinky website. I'm a programmer, not a designers what I tell people. So so I'm the guy who you click the submit button at the bank and it's something fancy happens in the back. I write that making a the submit button look pretty. I have no idea how to do that at all. So I put up this ugly, ugly website, did SEO and suddenly we were number one in the world for skype Spanish lessons. And to our surprise, two things happened. Within a month it's wine flu ended. Our school was fully booked again. Within three months we were making more money off of our skype Spanish lessons than our school, which was like wow. So we had the early mover advantage. We might not have been the first in the world, but we were one of the first people in the world to do these kind of online language lessons, only Spanish at the time. So for a while it just stayed as a side hustle, this whole skype Spanish lessons. Again, you're talking bootstrapping, no money. Fifty dollars is what it's you know, it's a where the third largest online language school in the world right now and we started for fifty. That's what it coust for blue host hosting back twelve years ago for a year. That's a big deal domain o than that. I know it's still pretty raised. It's like seventy eighty bucks right now, so it hasn't gone up a huge amount. But you know, fifty bucks. So that's what we will get our affiliate sales from that as well. Yeah, well, that's it. I think they given it the seventy bucks or so. It's a phill it. They give you more affiliate than the that's great that the actual cost so much the business. It did well. Eventually I built eleven other but Mani sites. was back in the day. That's what you did instead of one branded site, and that was the beginning of live link until two thousand and twelve, where Google change their algorithm and every single site disappeared from Google and I build it again. So I've built live language twice. So that's when we rebranded as live Langua. The website existed, but it was like our corporate page and all these other sites were like part of the live language network. I don't remember what I said and then, but since I had the page, I rebuilt it as live language but all the languages in there and rebuilt it again two thousand and two and fifteen. We Want Entrepreneur magazine, one of the best small businesses in the United States, and we've done pretty well since then. All of it, but from our house. We have never had an office. We're a small team. I mean I work in my pajamas. I had to change out of them for this interview, even though it's already they could a problems, but you never know what the podcast most right. Some of the will be offended by shopping a silks time really through exactly. I'm like what what? Yeah, so that was, you know, another one of our bootstrap stories. was literally just doing that seeing this time we had the need and kind of being a little innovative to try it out nice. I'd love that. Love that story. And you've continued growing these businesses, and I I mean there's a couple from from doing my my creeping around on you that I love to talk with, I think. First, you run a chocolate factory. I sold my shares in that two years ago. You had one. Yes, okay, so you had a chocolate that's correct. How how accurate is Willy Wonka to what a cholcolate factory is really like? Almost exactly accurate, except WOOMPA LOOMPA's are actually kind of green instead of look at perfect that. That's it. Excellent. Absolutely, that was that's an actually an interesting store. I mean honestly, I don't like chocolate. I'm a gummy bears guy myself. So you know he's gonna ask here, are you? Are you a chocolate fan? But no, no, no,...

I'm not. To Meia, high quality chocolate bar, snickers. I actually really like snickers bars, but you know, you give me like seventy percent cacao, I can, I can eat that stuff on my God, I'm not a big you need that's my wife is Shitar, so exactly all that. That's it. I need sugar in my chocolate. My wife loves chocolate. So luckily it did help out our marriage that we ran a chocolate factory and I had a limited chocolate supply. It was from Southeast Asia, so shipping it over to Mexico from the Philippines was not always the most practical thing in the world. That's say. That's fantastic. Okay, so we don't know. We don't have to dive into the chocolate then, since that's that's your usage, your gummy bears guy, I'm gonna be Bears Guy. Yeah, excellent. I mean I'm happy to dive into the chocolate. I mean I'm still friends with the owner. She's bought my shares. It wasn't like anything went wrong. It just basically wasn't making enough money to weren't the work, I mean I was putting into it. It was making good money by Filipino standards, but that's not the same as making good money by US standards. I had other businesses that were making it a more money than that for like three hours a week, compared to me putting twenty hours a week managing a factory. So I sold my shares. She bought it off in a year. We still chat, she still sends us Christmas cards and chocolate. You know, we're still on very good terms with the Ghinto chocolates. I'll put a plug nice into chocolate. Your hold of the Philippines all the exactly. Go to the Philippines, go to the supermarkets, you will find ghetto chocolates. Were one of the two Belgian chop upward companies in the Philippines. Fantastic, fantastic. And one company that you, I are still running. This is one of your primary businesses is twitter Kate, which is a social network with two hundredzero users. Is that correct? More than that probably now. I think it's a little over. Yeah, I haven't checked in the last few week or two. It usually buses to educate. Is the social is a Social Network Walled Garden for K through twelve generally in the United States and Canada. We do actually have a decent amount of users from South America as well. I put it in Spanish once I learned Spanish here in Mexico and we got quite a lot of users from that. And Yeah, we have about two hundredzero users that are using it. Teachers and students. They go in there. We you know, if you're watching our traffic, we have a very you know, obviously a big dip in the summers. Nobody uses it, and then there's once the school year starts we have a big spike. And it's essentially kind of like your private facebook group for students, but we don't ask for student contact information. So it's a lot of the privacy concerns that are out there. So when you add a student you decide a code, so one, two, three, four, five six, but a password and that's it. So I have no idea who your students are. I have done had their emails. I have no way to contact them. So it give and it's not like facebook that this classroom can contact this classroom at another school. Right the teacher has entire control over they build it, they create their own little classrooms. They can put separate students in them or they can have, you know, break the students into groups and all that kind of stuff. And people are able to use it and teachers are using in animated, amazing creative ways. But you know, homework is to go on to twitter and pretend you're a character from Shakespeare and everybody talks is there like Macbeth or hamlet or something like that, and they have to type as if they're than in character while they're doing it as our homework asignment. So there's a lot of cool ways people use it. That sounds wonderful. That was there was a class I was in in college that had a forum where we could like chat amongst each other and I this this is less educational than Shakespeare, but this was around the time I when I was regularly watching South Park and there's an episode were Mickey Mouse comes in and he's like I he's you know, this like tyrant. Basically he's just like this one little foot, but he's like marching around. He's like, Oh, I'm gonna kill all your father remember that? Yeah, and he's like the base some AFL like King Joe Loon for yeah, Korea. They pretty much. Yeah, I remember that. And he and so a friend and I had watched that episode and had a full on conversation, like as Mickey Mouse to each other, and the professor had no idea what we were quoting, but she was just so excited that we were participating. So she was like great engagement everyone and I. But yes, I can totally vouch that speaking in character so simple yet so fun. It is, and I mean my...

...my respects to teachers. Most of my businesses, not all, most of them I've been in education and I come from a family of academics. You know, my grandfather was professor to Harvard, all the rest of it. I'm the black sheep is. I'm not an academic, but I ended up going into entrepreneurship with academics. I mean, you know, that's pretty much you know who I've been working with. My wife as a teacher too. So I have so much respect for teachers. I mean, you know what they do? I could never do it. I'm an awful teacher. Oh, if, I hate repeating myself. So if I repeat, you know, if you don't get it the first time, I'll just whack my students upside them like what, you didn't get it? And Yeah, apparently that's not what good teachers do. So I yeah, I. Every time we had to do like a student teaching in school, I was just like further confirmation it's not for me. Like, I appreciate everything teachers do but, like you, I could not do it. I couldn't. I couldn't. I don't have the patience for it. They're angels compared to me. So one other business that you are currently working on. I believe you're launching this later this year in two thousand and twenty one, with podcast, podcast talk. Yeah, yeah, so that'll be launching in two thousand and twenty one in January. Yeah, I'm actually really excited. I'm betting that excited about a business. This is excited about a business in quite a while. So the origin of podcast talk is interesting. It's like all my businesses. It's it's about looking for a need and then nobody's feeling that need and I, instead of just moping about it, I build it myself. Right. So here's the idea was for livelihoodcom. We've built it primarily on search engine optimization, right, so it's built around the idea of Google search. But that puts you at the Women Google, right, they can change their algorithm tomorrow and suddenly you use their students, and that's very stressful for me. So I'm like, Hey, what is another way that we can market? So I tried facebook ads, I tried Google ads. They never really were profitable for us. At best, we broke even. We still run them, but you know, they're not a huge I guess it's not something I can just scale up and suddenly we get millions of dollars and students either. I've had my own podcasts in the past. I don't have any active interview once right now. I did launch this new Spanish one. I recorded a hundred seventy episodes in two weeks. Yeah, so that launched on Monday. So then we'll see how that goes. But I wanted to say I'm like it. Why don't I try to appear on other podcasts? Right? That's a great way to promote the business getting in front of the right audience. So I went on like cocaine. How hard could that be? Let me just go to Google and find some podcast and I'll reach out to him. Yeah, if anybody's tried that, they know that's not that easy. So you go on Google and you're like, okay, I want up here on business podcast, just for example. You get so the results are hit or miss. You know, some of either some of them are just too big, you know, like Pat Flynn's podcast or Tim Ferris podcast. I'm like, yeah, they're not, they're not having me on there. You know that they need to have New York Times best sellers or some of the other ones. You're looking. I'm like, although, I found the email, and then you look they haven't made a new episode in two years. Like now. I just spent the last thirty minutes looking for this guy's email on his website and they don't even do a podcast anymore. So I spent the day doing that. At the end of the day I'd like fifty emails and I remember thinking. I'm like, okay, I'm a market her I'm going to expect one to two percent response rate from this. So I just spent an entire day to get maybe on one podcast to if I'm lucky. You know, you do the math out for yourself. If you buil out of twenty five an hour and you just spend an out eight hours doing it, you spend a decent chunk of change. Right. If you've buil added more, you've spent even more time. So I remember thinking. I'm like, wait a minute, what am I doing? I'm a computer programmer. There's gotta be a more automated way that I can do this. So I did some research. I develop my own MVP. I kind of did my own use case to see if this was possible and I discovered it was. So what I've been able to do is I've been able to get all the active podcasts on itunes and spotify into my database, not only the the podcast but their episodes and their reviews into my database. And what podcast talk allows you to do is two things. First off, it's a podcast search engine, which so you would go in there, let's say, Joe, you want to be peer on music podcast for your band, right, you want to promote...

...your band. So you go in there and you're like, I want podcast in the mute to music category that do interviews that are made episodes in the last thirty days and have the word whatever genre of me. What kind of what genre of music do you guys play? Rock Music? There you go, so and I has to have the word rock music and some of their podcast episode so that you know they interview rock bands. Right you hits. You had search, takes a few seconds. Boom, every podcast out of the one point two million in the world that have that fallen to your category suddenly appear there on the list. You go through, you clean it up, see if you know some might not be perfect fits based on the criteria. Then you hit a button says campaign. You could campaign. All it does there is you fill out for four different forms for your outreach emails. The first ones the main one, and then there's a follow up three days later, another one seven days later. All the rest of it will have templates for you, but I strongly recom meant everybody kind of personalize it, because this is your pitch right to these podcasters. Then you hit safe and you're done. What does? What does podcast Hawk do now, depending on your plan in either sends out twenty, five, fifty or a hundred emails a day to the people on your list, depending on your list, like I mean, like for music. There thousands, tens of thousand, hundreds of thousands of podcasts out there. So every single day it'll send out emails to these people based on your criteria, sending on your pitch. We take care of all of it. If any one of them answers, we forward it to you and you just appeared on a podcast. That's what it does. So pretty much it's getting booked on podcasts on autopilot. That's what pot has. Hawk will help you do as a comparison. You know, the other side is I did the search. That's a lot of money. So I'm like, there must be somebody who does this. So I went and talked to some podcast booking agencies. They'll like, we'll get you on five to ten podcast three thousand. I'm sitting. I'm like, no, your three grand for this. The beauty of podcast Hawk is literally, you know, depending on the plan, I'll be charging a hundred fifty dollars to two hundred fifty dollars a month. That, you know, on the high end is to fifty on the bone, twoe hundred and fifty. Like I did the math I'm like, you could pay for two years to podcast off for the same money and if you just got one percent of reviews, you know, one percent responses. Even on the lowest level, we're talking like fifty or sixty podcast interviews for the same thing that these other companies are going to be charging you for five, and it's on a much more reasonable rate. Right, you've kind of pick it. If you go at our higher end with podcast Hawk, where we send out a thousand emails a month and you got one person, you know, one percent response rate. If you have a great story, you can probably get two or three percent, right, but the just so you got a one percent response rate. That's ten podcast interviews a month. That mean it's pretty much any every other work day you're going to be on a podcast. Imagine what they can do for your personal brand, for your band, for Your Business, to appear on all these podcasts and be known as the expert in whatever it is that you are trying to become the expert in. And the beauty about appearing on other people's podcast instead of doing your own. And I probably shouldn't say this when I want somebody else talk Gast, but I've been before is podcasting is work, right. Finding guests this work. You have to edit it or you have to pay somebody to edit. Then you do the show notes and you got to put it all up. By being a guest on somebody else's podcast, you're not doing any of that stuff. You show up, you get to talk about something you're passionate about and then a few weeks later, few months later, sometimes a few days later, it's all up there on the web for somebody else. So they've kind of done the promotion for you. If you're doing SEO, one of the important things about podcast is, of course, having a link back to your website. It's also link building. So on multiple levels it's a wonderful marketing tool that's so far has not been taken advantage of, not only for the business size, but I'm also hoping to help out the podcasters right, because sometimes it's hard to find good guests. Wouldn't it be great if the good guests reached out to you and all you had to do is pick through them? So that's another thing the podcast talk. I'm hoping to make this whole process a lot simpler for both ends, people who want to be on the podcast and for podcasters when I'm amazing guests, because if they filter out the right things, they'll you'll only be getting pitches from people who are relevant to you. You're not going to be getting pitches from somebody who runs an ice cream store New York City, right, because they could put you in there. But they're wasting their own money because they're sending emails out to people who are never you know, instead of the one percent response rate, they're going to get like point zero, zero, one percent response because they're just emailing everybody and it's relavant. Yeah, so is.

You can always tell when the people have not done even the the most, like smallest modicum of research. That's it, and podcast stop will do all of that for you, right, but you've already put in the surch criteria. The research, of the basic research is done for you and then you just do the outreach. Will have a score in there as well. So, for example, if somebody has a really popular podcast, well, it's going to be from zero to a hundred. So I you know, what I'm going to recommend is if the score is above an eighty, you can customize the outreach for those right, so you can go into our system and have custom emails for those guys and then everybody was below it. Get more of a standard template, but you can customize certain parts of it, but it will be a little more standard. You don't have to kind of spend your time writing personalized emails for lower level podcasters at the beginning because you're trying to get on there. It's helping both people at that point. If you and I appeared on Pad Flynn or Tim Ferris, we're not helping to embarrass but honestly he's up on us, so we better have to do that extra work right. Yeah, and I can. This will be my having not use the platform, but just based on how you've described it, and I will certainly give it my two thumbs up as someone who has recently been looking at basketball and pop culture podcast to appear on to promote a newsletter that I've started that combines basketball pop culture. And yes, it's exactly like that. You'll say, oh, this is a perfect fit. It's like they talk basketball but they're not at box scores and just like yelling at each other like sports talk radio. Off It is and I'm like that has no appeal to me. But I am like this is perfect, and then you check and it's like, Oh, November one thousand nine hundred and twenty and eighteen is the last time, is it that you I you did an episode. Cool, and you've just based the thirty minutes to an hour of your time. Yeah, I just kind of going through it doing that. Yeah, but this you would that guy would never show up. If you say I want an active podcast, some of the other uses afford in the future I'm thinking about and that I haven't it's not going to be built into it yet. You can actually maybe buy podcast right these inactive podcast you can go out there and buy and people aren't using it for anything. You can just, you know, download them, add some ads for whatever you're you're in your case, your newsletter. So you find this old and active basketball podcast that still shows up on itunes when you search for basketball podcast. So people still listen to it, but they have created a new episode in two years. So all you have to do is download those, you know, buy it for pennies on the dollar, I mean, you know, compared to making one though. You know, you let's say you can five hundred bucks and they give you like a hundred episodes. Download them, add an ad for your newsletter to it, upload it again so all the new listeners go in the future and now you just have free advertising for life on that podcast and anybody listens to it will know about your newsletter as well. So you won't even have to create all that stuff. So that's another use I'm looking for. That won't be in the Beta launch or you probably the first year, but it's something I'm looking at down the road. Yeah, I think that's a real smart thing. I mean you see it with even though I think it's against their terms of service, with instagram accounts and with websites, to of being like hey, this is a great website or account, it's still getting traffic. It's just not how do that and come ten. Yeah, I just bought how much toilet papercom Nice, nice and the as a size story. There's no business there yet, but the reason I bought it was exactly that. It was made by this guy in in the UK. It's a calculator that figures out how much toilet paper you need. Right Covid it went viral, I mean the daily show mentioned it. was all over the place, so much to my mb it has more backlinks than livelink when I've been working work build backlinks a livelanwood for ten years. It had more backlinks in a month. So I picked it up for pennies on the dollar. I mean literally backlinks for like a dollar each. Like you know, if you think about it, I paid like a dollar for a backlink from BBC, CNN, you know, all these big websites, and now it's just sitting there. Now I have ideas of businesses I'm going to throw on there on the future. But that's exactly what you were talking about. I bought this for that. I mean it's it's whatever business I throw on there within reason will rank number one in Google. Has To be something in the bathroom toilet area. But you know, I'm looking to start an ECOMMERCE store once this whole covid think passes. Right now there's issues with shipping from China. I talked to some e commerce friends and they say, if you've never done this before, this is not the time to start. Hold on to the website for a year. But I it's like buying. I like to say...

...it's like buying property in downtown your cities, like buying. You bought this plot of land in downtown Austin. You don't really know what you're gonna do with it yet, but you have a plot of landed downtown Austin. I mean, you know do worse those are. You can do it. Yeah, I mean you could put whatever building you put on there. Eventually it's probably going to be successful because you're you're there. So that's kind of the way I look at it. Nobody's doing that with podcast asks. I hope to be the first one to kind of start that movement. It might be part of podcast talk, it might be its own thing in the future once I get to it. Like you know, I bought all these domains with podcasts and animals, so it'll be like podcast wolf for something like that. But it might be a market place where you can buy and sell podcasts at inactive podcasts. Awesome, I mean I think that sounds wonderful and I I mean I think both of us can talk about podcast for forever, but I don't want anything for too long, so well will I. I do want to cover the question I always like to ask. What's a question you wish you were asked more frequently, and I loved yours. As someone who has started many businesses, which is why shouldn't you start your own business? That's the reason I brought that up is about two years ago I started speaking at conferences to get out of my comfort zone. Most people don't believe it. I'm an introvert, so kind of getting on stage is terrifying to me, but I've had been lucky and had the privilege to speak on quite a few conferences until this year, in which case, yeah, I'm not down speaking. I was supposed to speak about five or six this year and they're all got canceled. One still optimistic and November, and they say no, we're still planning on I'm like no, you, no, you're not. But the thing is a lot of people are being an entrepreneur by going to these conferences. I realized that being entrepreneurs become trendy in recent years. Right it's like, oh, entrepreneurs, the cool kid, you know, the guy who started. It's not before most entrepreneurs before we're like, I can't find a job, I just need to make something, you know, I need to make a living. Let's go and do that and as a result a lot of people are kind of going into this kind of starry eyed optimism and with false expectations. Like you know, there are so many courses on how to build Your Business and thirty days out there, and I'm just like, you're not building any business in thirty days, I promise you. You're not selling it six months for five million dollars. You're not doing that either. And that's kind of what a lot of people expect when they've become an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is hard. It's not less work, it's a lot more. I work fifty to sixty hours a week. I run seven figure businesses and building other ones. I don't sit sipping a Martini every afternoon and not worrying about it. I mean, that's not what it is. I love what the Facebook ad tells me. I know I'm like one of the guys on the beach and he's just relaxing in front of his Ferrari. I mean, you know then, what? No, and that's the problem with it. Most people, I believe, would be happier working at a nine to five, a quote unquote, stable income where you don't worry about work after five o'clock. I was there, I know what it's like. When I was a programmer, I never thought about work or you know, as soon as I clocked out at five, I would not think about it until the next day was the weekend. It wouldn't even occur to me. No checking emails at six o'clock at night, nothing. When Your Business owner, you don't have that luxury. You are always think. When you're an entrepreneur, you're always thinking about your business all day, every day, before you go to bed, first thing, when you wake up in the next morning. You are going to have ups and downs. We already covered it right I lost live Ling will overnight. It was just made it into like this two hundredzero grows range. At that point I was like, whoo yeah, and I wake up the next more it is gone. I have no income coming in. That's hugely, hugely stressful and it's not for everybody. You If, before going that on into entrepreneurship, really ask yourself what makes you happy in life and be honest, there's no wrong answer. If being happy in life is making a lot of money, more power to you. I mean that. That's not the rock. That's not wrong. Society makes us sometimes think that that's not a nice thing to say, but it's not wrong. If it's honest to you. If your goal is to help as many people as possible, fifty entrepreneurship may allow you to do that, but there're plenty of other ways to do that. Going to get a job with like, you know, an aid group? That might be a more guaranteed way of you doing that right. Ask yourself that first and if most people go through that...

...exercise, I think they're going to find that the stress of running and building your own business is not for them. Get a good job. If you're if you're lucky enough to, you know, be able to afford college and go to college, you can probably get a job that can support you and your family. You get home at five, you know, you get home at a reasonable time every day. You spend time with your kids, you get your vacation days, do that. But entrepreneurship, I'm sorry, it's not for everybody. It's not for most people. It's for a few people who are crazy enough to to think that. They think that it's fun. I like that. And yes, facebook ads, stop lying to us about it. Exactly, exactly, I'm like. I've seen those ads and I cringe whenever everything was like. One of my business ideas is long watching a business where my whole business is just taking those ads and ripping them apart, like saying no, no, no, I don't have the time, I'll never do it, but you know, I've that, just kind of like somebody should do that now there. I mean, just gotta rip those things apart. Yeah, I like that. I like that. All right, where you're almost off the hook here. We always like to wrap up with the top three. And okay, doors. As someone who is done a lot of things, what are the top three things that everybody should do before they die? Okay, one easy, okay, technically not the right time to say this. Problem. Get Out of the country or the city or wherever you've been, see something else. I remember really well when I lived in Ohio, one of my best friend she had never left Ohire in her life and she gave me this quote where she said why would I leave Ohio? Everything I need is here, and I felt sorry for honestly, because there's so much in the world to see, so much more to experience the travel allows you to do. And when I say travel, don't just fly to a country and stay on all inclusive resort where never leave. I'm in. Go there, meet the people meet the locals. It'll make enrich your life, it'll enrich you know their lives and you'll be a better person for it. So that's the first thing I think everybody should do. Number two, volunteer for at least one week every year. I do volunteer vacations with my wife at a school for the deaf, probably the best vacation we do every single year. It's a lot of work. My sign language is crap. I mean, I can be I know the alphabets. I'm sitting there spelling out words and it takes me like thirty minutes to get a sentence out. It's ridiculous, but it makes you feel really, really good when you do it. And then the third thing is tied to the first. To a lot of people sit and plan their work, plan their life. What most people don't do is plan their rest. So spend more time planning your rest than you do planning anything else and your body, your family, your health will thank you for it. I like that. I am certainly not good at planning my rest, but nobody is. You need to do it. Yeah, awesome. All right, thank you so much for hopping on. This was fantastic. So I've like. I'd love to dive into like eight more things, but we're trying to be cognizant of everyone's time. But if people want to learn more about you, want to get an early sign up on podcast talk all that good stuff, where can I find you? Sure? So I'm not very active on social media, simply because I have to do it for a living. You know I mean, I all my businesses have like facebook accounts and twitter accounts and all the rest of it. So if you want to find me personally, facebook is like the one place I'm dating myself right that like, what's your instagram? Handle them like. No, I don't have an instrum account. I'm like that. I don't have time. So find me on facebook. Gray Blakeney, you can find it. Only one with the sword fighter. You know whether somebody sword fighting on the cover. Otherwise you can go to either one of my businesses, live Linguacom, Al Ivel and Guacom. Go to the about US page in my email is right there. I try to make myself accessible to the team and everybody was there. You can also do the same thing pop gast talk. You go through the contact US page right now. That comes straight to me. Once I have customer support, it'll go to them, but then they'll pass it on to me. So you can get in touch with me with both of those as well. Podcast Hawk, Hawk, the animal, not like hawking goods like that. I didn't realize that people would have that...

I would think that until I did. So H A W K podcast, ajwkcom. I'd love to hear from everybody, and I say that on every podcast in my contact me what nobody does, but when you do, I promise I'll reply. Fantastic. Yeah, I was thinking the animal as well, but now maybe maybe I will think. Yeah, somebody else brought it up, like are you hawking good or something like that, or hawking a looseason? No, podcast out like frisbees. That exactly. It's got a double meaning that it's Nice. It works. It does, it does. I just never could probably buy that domain, if it actually works, and just point it at I guess I'll just in case people go to the wrong exactly. All right, thank you again. This was awesome and of course we'll wrap up with a Corny Jack, as we always do this. This is one that I've recently reheard and still makes me laugh, which is good sign of my maturity. But did you know that ants never get sick? No, I didn't know that. It's true. It's because they have little antibodies and very, very appropriate for what's going on in the world right now, exactly trying to keep the topical.

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