An insider look at Mixergy’s pre-interview process

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Today I have one of the key members of the Mixergy team, Arie Desormeaux the Mixergy Producer.

I invited her here to talk about how Mixergy operates and our iterative process.

It takes a lot of work and it took us a long time to change the way we worked internally. We’re going to talk about how we did it.

 
Arie Desormeaux

Arie Desormeaux

Mixergy

Arie Desormeaux is the Mixergy Producer.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of Mixergy and I’ve got one of the key members of the Mixergy team. Arie Desormeaux, our producer here. Arie, how do you feel?

Arie: I’m already having so much fun.

Andrew: Oh, good. I was worried that you were feeling nervous about being on here and you’re going to back out, but you’re fine. You’re fine.

Arie: Yes. I already backed out once. So I got all those jitters out and I’m here to stay.

Andrew: I’m glad that you’re having fun. I feel like most people don’t have fun with me in these interviews in the beginning. It’s not until the end that they realize, “Wow, I love it. This guy took such deep interest in me.” But before, they feel anxious and worried. But you don’t feel that?

Arie: No.

Andrew: Good.

Arie: In fact, I was remembering that before our first call we had scheduled, I then was editing the Pat Flynn podcast, and I saw that he said he was more nervous for his interview with you than he was proposing to his wife, and I was like, “It’s okay. It’s all good.”

Andrew: It kind of puts it in perspective. You realize, well, actually it’s not that bad.

Arie: Right.

Andrew: We’re going to talk about how Mixergy operates, because I think we’ve got a good thing here. A very iterative company. I’ve just been reading Jason Fried’s book about having a calm organization. And he said, “You have to iterate the way your company works just like you iterate on your product.” And I realized we’ve been doing a really good job of that here at Mixergy, constantly iterating, constantly improving, and as a result, our guests just love being on here and what we produce from all that work is a more researched, more meaningful, more interesting interview for our audience than I think almost any other podcaster does. And that takes a lot of work and it took us a long time to get here. And I thought what we’d do is talk to you about our process of getting here, how we got the interviews the way they are and how we work together internally.

And I think it’ll give you a sense of the way we think, and you’ll learn a lot from our iterative process. And one of the things that I learned from interviewing the founder of Zappos and then talking to other people that work there is they share their methodology, partially so they could teach others, but also knowing that when others learn from them and see how they work, they’ll come back and say, “I have an idea for how you could improve.” And so we’re always looking for new ways to improve. As you learn from us, you’ll probably come up with a couple of ideas for what we could do to improve, and we’d love to hear about them.

And I say we, because if you email our whole team contact@mixergy.com, Arie will see it, Andrea will see it, I’ll see it, the whole team will get to see it. And this interview where we take the wraps off of how we work, this is secret stuff that I probably shouldn’t be doing. But I think it’s worthwhile for you. It’s all sponsored by two phenomenal sponsors, HostGator for hosting your website and Toptal for hiring developers.

Arie, you smiled as I said that, because you’ve heard me say it a million times, right?

Arie: A million times.

Andrew: So let me start off with this thing that happened to me recently. I was flown out by Russell Brunson to interview him on stage about the history of ClickFunnels. And after or during his intro of me, he said, “One of the things that I love about Andrew is that he’s so hard on his guests and he’s just so good at digging in.” And one of the things he doesn’t realize is that after the interview is over, the guest will often thank me for doing it and say, “I’m amazed that you do it.” And the reason they are so comfortable with my hard approach is they know I’m coming from a good place. I’m really trying to learn from them. And they see I’ve done research.

Like think about Jerry Hum, the founder of Touch of Modern, I showed you in my research notes I had his prices and then a comparison of what the prices were on Amazon. And when I brought that up to him, he didn’t clam up and say, “Andrew is being a jerk to me,” but he understood, Andrew is trying to understand me. And he understood it because, Arie, you talked to him before the interview, and you created notes on him, and before you talked to him, we had a researcher research him. And before that, we even did other research to figure out whether he was appropriate to be on here or not.

And that is an indication of a really good conversation. That level of prep, that level of trust from the guest and that level of trying to be useful. And I think most podcasters don’t do it. They just sit here five minutes before and they go, “All right. I don’t know anything about my guest. My audience doesn’t know anything. We’ll find out together.” Well, you get more meaningful conversations when you find out beforehand, right, Arie?

Arie: Yes. Heard that.

Andrew: How did you feel talking to Jerry Hum and others? Do you get nervous when you talk to some of these big shots?

Arie: I was looking back, we started having me do pre-interviews 2015, and that feels like a very long time ago, but I very clearly remember the first pre-interviews I did. I was so nervous. You would have to . . . I had a stand-up desk and I would have to like, “whooh, okay,” you know, like do the whole pre-workout kind of situations to get the nerves. And it’s all before the call, because once you get on the call, you’re like, “Okay, this is a person.” And you’re asking about someone else, so that’s just always like easier. But still I would get nervous I’d say up until . . . probably took me six months of doing it to just flow.

Andrew: I still get occasionally nervous with some guests, because I’m just in awe of them. And I feel like to some degree, I’m ready to be done with it, but to another degree I should appreciate it because if I wasn’t in awe with them, then what’s the point of interviewing them?

Arie: I’ll tell you who I get nervous about. It’s the opposite of what you said. I get nervous about people who have kind of a mixed online reputation. These people, there’s like negative things written about them, that their business is a scam because I feel like I’m supposed to be in this position of like, “Well, is this a legitimate business?” And I can never do that. So I always get nervous. I’m not going to do the pre-interview justice, but what ends up happening almost always is I just end up liking them so much, and like it turns out like once you, like anything, once you hear somebody’s story, you’re like, “Oh, okay, that’s not really fair.” But yes, those still freak me out.

Andrew: Even after you talked to them, there are times when I will get on and I’ll say, “I still don’t think that this is legitimate, or I can’t wrap my head around it.” I’ll tell you one person who hates me, I think. I’ll mention [inaudible 00:06:20].

Arie: Is it the founder of Scorpion? Because that was one for me that was hard.

Andrew: No. But I’m still skeptical of him. The founder of Scorpion, the research company charges a few thousand dollars to research anything in the world.

Arie: Yeah, the concierge. Yeah.

Andrew: Right. He’s known as a genius. I know what it is that’s a little bit scary about him. What made me feel comfortable is that NBC is doing business with them and I imagine that they did their research. They’re not going to have a fraud on to like, as the foundation of their show. I think it was NBC.

What’s I think a mistake with him is, and we’re going to get into how we evolve this process in a bit, but I like this, the direction of this conversation. Here’s what I think his issue is. He doesn’t express flaws and personal frailty, and when you don’t show the rough edges, people think you’re hiding them, and then they start looking for it themselves. So if all he’s showing in his research and other, I mean, in the articles that are written about him and the stuff that he posts online is how he’s the smartest person in the world, and I think he make that type of a claim, there’s this feeling that you say, “No, BS. I don’t believe it.” Right?

Arie: Right. It can’t be. Any self-proclaimed genius makes you feel like there’s something missing.

Andrew: And I actually say this to all of our guests. You want to come on here and show off, to some degree we all do, or put your best foot forward at least. You should understand no one’s going to believe you, and no one’s going to relate to you unless you show a little bit of a flaw, a little bit of your idiosyncrasy, the big mistake. That’s the only reason we root for you. Right?

Arie: So I have a perfect example of that because I just did a pre-interview with, his name is Dar . . . oh, what’s his last name . . . Man. And he . . . Same thing there. When I got the research doc from Andrea, she was like, “I can’t find anything positive about him online.”

Andrew: Positive?

Arie: Yeah, nothing positive.

Andrew: Okay.

Arie: Yeah. So I was like, you know, are we even going to follow through with the interview, but I decided, because it looked like a real business, it was a subscription company for makeup tutorials and . . . But he previously had been in a hydroponics business that had to do with weed, and so he had gotten into some legal issues before that. But then the success from that company, he totally bought into the L.A. lifestyle, and he was like dating someone who was a celebrity and that kind of blew up. And so there was all this negative kind of celebrity gossip about him. But on the pre-interview he was so . . . first of all, I didn’t bring up any of that stuff, because I’m still afraid of controversy a little bit. I’m working on that. But he, like, explained it all, and so, really, I trusted him. So it’s [inaudible 00:09:03]

Andrew: I think that helps so much. It helps us care about them. A lot of people say that Steve Jobs picked the wrong biographer for him — I forgot the name — Walter Isaacson, because he focused so much on the flaws. And I think that there’s so many issues without Steve Jobs’ biography, because they’re like technical mistakes in the book. And the phone wasn’t made out of what I think Walter Isaacson said it was. And those are obvious things that you can hold the phone in your hand and tell. But what he did do right was he talked about how Steve Jobs will order a few glasses of orange juice and then have an issue with them all. He talked about the way that Steve Jobs will park, I think, in a handicap spot. That type of thing is endearing, and there’s no way that Steve Jobs would have had this guy on expressed in his life, showing all these flaws to him and expected it not to be in his book.

I believe that Steve Jobs knew that the iPhone needed to be perfect. You couldn’t have like a rough spot sticking out of one side and not out of the other, but because that’s what makes people love it more if it looks and feels perfect, but a human being has to have flaws for people to love them more. Otherwise it doesn’t feel right. And that’s what we try to do at Mixergy. And also we’re trying to show here’s the journey.

All right. So that takes a while to express from the guests. You spend some time on it. Andrea will spend some time researching. We now have a research company that we work with, a company that does our research, that does it for us, and I’ve learned some tricks over the years to get people to open up and share that. But let’s talk about how we got here before we get into all that. You and I started working together how? Do you remember?

Arie: Well, I don’t remember the complete details, but my brother was working with you. I think he was . . .

Andrew: David Sayed [SP]?

Arie: Yes. Developing masterclasses. And I had just graduated from college with a creative writing degree. So I was pretty much unemployable, and I also wanted to not be in the United States. So he was like, “Hey, I’ve got . . . ” It might . . . I think I even . . . he outsourced me, like he was using me to like make his job easier because he had me, the first project I remember doing was I had to add a snippet of code to protect like every page you had on the site. It was very like involved. Yeah, and that was how we got started.

Andrew: Yeah. And then I remember at first he didn’t say that it was you, but he did say there’s someone doing it, and then he became your agent with me. He was like, “Well, you know, my sister can do that really well. You know, my sister can do that really well.” And we needed a bunch of stuff done, and I remember one of the things that you did was live chat. I would get on the sales pages and do live chat, and I thought this is great, but I can’t do it all the time. Arie’s looking for stuff to do. Let’s experiment there. And do you remember your experience?

Arie: Yeah. So, you know, I didn’t have like a professional head shot at the time, but I did have a photo of me from the beach, and I think I used that as my profile photo. And so I was getting a lot of like interest from the chat that didn’t have anything to do with Mixergy.

Andrew: And at first, when you had issues, I said, “This woman does not know how to do this. Let me jump in there and I could do it all right.” It’s interesting that I’ve got my own insecurities and my own doubts. But when someone doesn’t do something right internally, I always think I could do it better, and so I jump in and I go, “I could do this. Let me see.” I started looking at the chat log and said, “What is she doing wrong?” And I realize what the . . . this is a whole other experience. She is doing this and getting a different response. And it was all like relationship and hitting on you. And I said, “All right, we got to shut this down before I break some piece of equipment.” And so we shut that down, and then we started doing other things. And at the time Jeremy was doing pre-interviews for us, and I should just step back and talk about the pre-interview process.

What I found that happened in my interviews is, at the end of an interview, the guests would sometimes say things like, “Oh, he didn’t ask me about this great story.” And then they tell me this fantastic story, and I think, “Why didn’t I know that?” Or they’d not say something right, and I wished that I skipped a question. And I remember distinctly driving through Santa Monica and getting a call from a guest beforehand and saying to the guest, “You know, I want you to sound good in the interview. This is really important to me because I know you. Let me ask you this thing.” And then I started taking notes by hand. This is going to make sense. And I started doing this with guests, calling them up ahead of time. And then, before an interview, I would spend some time with the guests, say like, “Look, I really want you to sound good here. So let me ask you a couple of things.”

And when they go into a good story, I’d write it down, but interrupt them and say, “Let’s hold that out so it sounds fresh.” And I was doing that for a long time and driving myself crazy. And then I talked about in an interview and Owen McGab Enaohwo, the guy from Sweet Process among other things said, “You should hire someone to do it.” And I said, “Owen, you don’t get it. This is like, first of all, they’re giving me their time. They’re not going to trust anyone else with that, you know, and no one’s going to know how to ask these questions.”

And then I hit a breaking point where I couldn’t do it myself, and I finally looked for pre-interviewer. And the way that Jeremy and I hooked up should be interesting for another conversation, but he was doing pre-interviews. And then he got to do other work and didn’t have enough time to do pre-interviews. And you said, “I could do it.” And why did you feel comfortable being able to do the pre-interviews?

Arie: Honestly, I don’t know that I did. I think that you . . . the way I remember it is that Andrea, maybe, you were like, “Let’s find someone else on the team to do it.” Andrea started doing it, and that was probably a little bit of like, “Okay, if she can do it, I can do it probably.” But yeah, I think that I was ready for . . . I mean, we had been working together at that point for years, and I wanted to do something different and more exciting. And, you know, I get to edit these interviews. I’ve been doing that for a long time, like the after the production was done. So it was just neat to kind of see more behind the scenes.

Andrew: Andrea hated the process. She hated it.

Arie: Oh, and April did it too.

Andrew: And April, our writer did it. She, I think, did okay with it. The first version was just a set of questions that I kind of wished we’d have. And then Jeremy and I once a week would get on a call and we’d look at the answers, and we’d go over it and we’d improve the questions and the questioning. And then I would record the interview, and I’d have more feedback for him. And you saw the questions and you felt like, “I’ve got your voice, Andrew. I see where you get frustrated. I see where you could do better and I got it.” And so you got on and you did it. And then you started doing . . . you started asking people questions. One of the first ones was Tom Bilyeu, the founder of Quest Bars. Do you remember that?

Arie: I do. That was one of my first ones still when I was very, having to do jumping jacks before the interviews. And at that time I really spent a lot of time with the guests, more so than I do today. I kind of go faster today. But the benefit of that is that, you know, they really open up to you, and you’re talking about things that are so personal. I mean, we start at childhood. I make a joke about it sometimes. I’m like, “Okay, we’re going to start about where you were born and we go all the way.” And so, yeah, I saw the reaction of people opening up and that they opened up like that to me who I don’t have . . . I’m not at all involved in like the face of Mixergy. I don’t have any like following or anything like you, so it just . . . I could see the process working, and that was enough of positive reinforcement just to keep improving, make sure it’s a better process for the experience for the guests. All that.

Andrew: We intentionally start with childhood because it’s easy and people will feel less threatened by that. It puts them in a good place. And I remember, when I hired someone to help me improve my interviews, he said, “Andrew go back to their childhood. It tells us a little bit about where they’re from, and it’s something that no one else will talk about online anyway, so you might as well get that.” And so we did it.

We intentionally lay out the questions the way we do, like I really want to know their revenue upfront as the first question. But if you start asking that, it feels a little bit off putting, and so we intentionally, we’ll put that down a few different levels before we get into it. And then in the interview, when I get started, I copy that question about their revenue to the top so I can start with that. So yes, a good process will help make things feel a little bit more comfortable and get you started right.
Arie: I’ll just say one tweak I made to the first question, because it’s phrased like, “What’s a childhood experience that shows how you became an entrepreneur?” That was the original question. And something I learned along the way was I changed the question to, “Did you always know you’re going to be entrepreneurial, or did this turn out to be a big surprise to you?” Because what happens is I think founders they may feel, with the nature of an interview like this, they need to be the kid who was selling like, they were recollecting popsicle sticks and making like cabins and selling them or something. And I think it’s cool that they get to be like, “No, not at all. I wanted to be an accountant.”

Andrew: That explains why there are some people who say I didn’t have that usual journey, and then they tell me about how they wanted to be performers or something completely different. Okay, now I see how you’re phrasing it, and I see why that . . . and I agree with you. I don’t just want this made-up story where founders were born to be founders and from the womb they were starting to sell their mom on milk or something.

Arie: Yes, and related to that, I find that in my research there’s almost always an origin story about how the founder or founding team came up with the idea. I never bring that up and ask them, “Is that right?” I always ask them straight on because, and I’ll even mentioned maybe the origin story that I heard and then kind of say how like media likes to have those be like really tidy and that may not necessarily be true. And a lot of the times it’s not. It’s completely different.

Andrew: So one of the things that we do and, yes, by the way, and I actually will make fun of guests sometimes before about their origin story just to see if it really is that, because if I make a little bit fun of it and it’s real, they will fight back. If I don’t, then it lets them drop their guard and go, “Okay, here’s how it actually happened,” but I needed a way to express it. And now I’m not selling the fake story. I’m selling something that is more closely aligned to reality. I also liked how on the bottom of that first research doc that you put together, you didn’t just have all his questions, all his answers to you from the pre-interview. You had a set of links. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Arie: Yes. That was all the research that I do before the pre-interview.

Andrew: Yeah. You said, “Here are the places where I went to research this guest.” That’s again why it drives me freaking nuts when I listen to someone else’s interview and they’re not at all prepared. You’re more prepared than they’re prepared on your first day. This was one of your first interviews, Quest Bar, the protein bar company. You did more research on him than most podcasters will do with their guests.

Arie: My pet peeve is when a host asks a guest to explain who they are and what they do. I think that that’s so lazy, and that’s not very nice for a guest, like [inaudible 00:20:16] proper intro and show that you know who they are and introduce them to their audience.

Andrew: And then it goes on forever, and there’s some assumptions. So we constantly iterate. One place where we iterate is I remember in the early days of us working together, I would get on to record with a guest, and a few minutes before I go, “Why am I even talking to this guy? He’s clearly not a good fit here. What happened?” And I would find ways to get out of the interview, because I’m not doing an interview with someone who is not a good fit. But what I did also was come back to the team and say, “Here’s a good way for us to not have people on.” And we came up with a few techniques. One of them is Pipedrive. Pipedrive is a software we use to manage our booking process. Can you talk about what happens in that first step in Pipedrive and the second step in Pipedrive?

Arie: Yes. And there’s been steps prior to what became like our stage one.

Andrew: We’ve tested so many different ways.

Arie: Yeah, and big mistakes. Like now, to be clear, in the first part of Pipedrive, that’s anyone who comes to Mixergy or has contacted someone on our team and they want to either suggest themselves or someone else for an interview, it gets turned into like basically a proposal to be on the podcast

Andrew: And that’s a card in the first column in our software in Pipedrive.

Arie: Yes. And the action behind that is it needs to either be approved or denied. And there’s a whole other like theory about how we do each of those things. But I’ll just say that doing what you’ve mentioned earlier, about how someone would make it that far in our process and it not be a good fit, it’s taken like years to recognize, you know, sometimes people online will make their business look like x and then you have to realize, okay, well, it’s not a $6 million company. They’ve been funded that much, but they’re not making money. They’ve only been around six months. So learning to look at different indicators of like, “Okay, is this a real company that’s ready to, like teach people?” So yeah, once they get approved, then either . . . Do you want me to go through the process or . . .

Andrew: I think that one of the important parts about the approval is when one person suggests a guest, another person has to approve them, because it’s so easy for Andrea to add someone in there and say, “This is great. I talked to the person.” And then we love them, because we really do care about the guests, we care about people. And especially when it comes to the entrepreneurial world, people know how to make themselves likable. That’s their job to make themselves likable. Even if they have nothing else, they need to know how to do that. And so someone else needs to approve them. What happens if you then get on a pre-interview with them and they’re not a good fit? What do you do?

Arie: Well, so this also has to do with how, again, people got approved who shouldn’t be. It is so hard to tell people no. It’s their business. It’s like you want them to be successful. You know what being on a podcast like this can mean for their business. If I get on a pre-interview and I know they’re not a good fit, I think it’s really . . . first of all, I hear them out. I pretty much do the whole pre-interview, and I give them the whole benefit of the doubt. But, and this is true, I say that we’re really interested in their story and we can learn a lot, but we’re not ready or they’re not ready and we want to invite them back later once they’ve grown more.

Andrew: That’s what I do. This is going to be a really good story, but it’ll be so much more impactful if it’s bigger, or in a year or two when you get to a certain level, if it’s not, the audience is just going to rip into you and say, “Why does this guy think that he’s got something there when he’s just getting started?” And it’s s just not a good response.

Arie: I do you use that a lot too, about how critical our audience can be, rightfully so. I think that’s one of the benefits of that group of people in the network is that if they don’t feel like they deserve to be on Mixergy, they will be very vocal about it.

Andrew: And that’s an interviewing technique that I actually learned from Mike Wallace. I heard that Mike Wallace called the Shah, not the Shah of Iran, the Ayatollah a lunatic. And I said, “I got to go find out how this interviewer is so good that he can call him a lunatic.” And I went back and I saw, and he said, I think it was he said something like, “The President of Egypt said, forgive me, his words not mine, that you are not really a true Muslim and you really are, excuse me, forgive me, his words, not mine, a lunatic. What do you say to that?”

And I realized, oh, that’s how he doesn’t come across as off putting. He’s putting the words in someone else’s mouth. So now he can’t be upset at Mike Wallace. He can’t just go kill Mike Wallace. He can say, “Hey, this guy from Egypt did it.” And I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that actually that guy did get killed and I think . . . I swear Iran did have something to do with it, and so it’s better that Mike Wallace did that. But that’s the approach. You find someone else that you . . . we are an advocate for someone else, put the words in their mouth. It’s really helpful.

Arie: And I use you for that purpose a lot.

Andrew: Good. And I will come in and I’ll say the same thing with the audience. And it’s painful, especially after they’d done the pre-interview, especially after they probably told their friends, told people on their team this is going to happen and then it doesn’t happen, but it’s better to have that than not.

You know what, I want to do a sponsorship message. Ads are a place where I think I’ve kind of lost touch lately. The length of the ads go too long when I like the guest. That’s not a good approach. I think I was getting a little bit stale with the ads, and so I don’t even know how it came up, but I knew I always wanted to have stories for the guests.

And so we hired somebody to write stories up. So here’s the first sponsor. It’s a company called Toptal for hiring developers. I’m going to read this the way that we hired our writer to put it together, and then I’m going to have some suggestions for what we could do to improve.

Shariq Minhas led engineering teams at Hotwire and Expedia. He got together with some co-founders and decided, “You know what? We’re going to start a new company in the travel space.” He tried hiring developers independently from an online job marketplace, but he found that a lot of the ratings on those marketplaces are actually misleading because someone will get a lot of high ratings for doing some pretty simple job, pretty simple work. And what he needed was a way to say, “No, I don’t need someone who’s really great at doing basic stuff, but someone who’s really good at doing phenomenal stuff.” That’s a lot harder to find with most marketplaces.

And he said, “You know, I’m going to give this whole Toptal thing a try.” And so he went to Toptal, and he understood that they had this rigorous screening process. He didn’t have to spend time vetting candidates. All the candidates were going to be phenomenal, or else Toptal is going stand behind them. And so he hired developers from Toptal, and he had success with every single one of them. All the developers worked out for him. And as a result, he was able to focus on his business, help it grow instead of spending a lot of time trying to figure out who to talk to and what people’s online ratings were.

If you’re out there looking to hire, go to toptal.com/mixergy, that’s top as in top of your head, tal as in talent, toptal.com/mixergy. Mixergy when you do, you’re going to get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to, what’s it called?

I should actually put this up on my screen. Oh, no, come on Andrew. Toptal, I just kind of said I’ve been doing this ad for so long. I know the bottom line. They actually spoke to me, and they said, “Andrew, can you please read this? Because if you get it wrong, we’re not going to be able to stand behind what you say, and it’s going to be a little bit of trouble for us.” So I’ve been reading it so long, I thought I had to memorized. I don’t.

Okay. So here it is. In addition to a no-risk trial period of up to two weeks, if at the end of the trial period you’re not 100% satisfied, you will not be billed. toptal.com/mixergy.

So here’s the issue. So I think we’re paying something like, is it a 150 bucks for two of these types of articles, two of these types of bullet points? Something like that. And so I think I’ve been a little bit cheap. What we should do is have her create even more of them. Am I right?

Arie: Yeah. I think at the level that we have Toptal as the sponsor, we should have more.

Andrew: So if it’s like 75 bucks per, we should probably use each one of these three times. Twenty-five dollars per ad is not too much to spend, and we should just have her create maybe one read for every three times that a sponsor’s on. That’s probably the right rhythm. And at some point we can start reusing some of the older ones, but it should still . . . we should still have a lot in the bank before we start thinking about that.

I do like the structure. Again, I’m very systemized now. I didn’t just say, “Hey, can you create something for me?” But I said, “Here’s the rhythm. I need to have a person that the audience could relate to, so that our audience cares about it. Then give me one sentence about the problem that they had. Again, make it relatable. Then give me one sentence about the approach they tried before they worked with the sponsor so we can see how the other approaches don’t work well. Then give me one sentence about how it worked out, and then one final thing about how they use the sponsor and they triumphed because of it.”

And now I’ve got like this . . . Let me see how many, five sentences. And then all I have is five sentences and I could riff on it. The one mistake that they make is the same . . . that she made is the same one that everyone makes — writing way too freaking much. You think that one extra little thing is going to help Andrew, one extra little thing. How about if I actually create a run-on sentence and technically and within one sentence for each of these questions, but I’m not . . . I added more and . . . It’s a distraction. What do you think?

Arie: Yeah. She mentioned recently that she’s paring them down.

Andrew: She should. And we should just keep giving her more feedback, more ideas for how to work and how to structure these stories and maybe give her a few different structures for storytelling.

Okay. Let’s talk about improving. We had the founder of MOD Pizza on. What is his name?

Arie: Scott Svenson.

Andrew: How do you do that? I’ve been interviewing these people. I can’t tell their name’s . . . Scott Svenson is so hard.

Arie: Yeah. I don’t know why. And I definitely, I wish I could remember more people and especially like which person goes with which company, but for the most part . . . first of all, I don’t interview nearly as many as you do, and I haven’t been doing it for as long.

Andrew: So I got him on, and I saw your notes on him. And then I did my own research too, because I spent some time with him and I realized, hey, this guy is actually super famous, because before he started this Make Your Own Pizza thing in the U.S., he had a coffee shop, I think it was called Seattle Coffee in the U.K. It did phenomenally well. It was acquired by Starbucks. He became a huge celebrity in the U.K. And then he came to the U.S. and he created MOD Pizza. And a lot of the questions that we had, I found when I was just kind of researching him on my own to get some sense of him and I realized, “Oh no, he’s super wealthy, super successful, super famous, not in the U.S., but outside the U.S.” And we asked him the same questions, and it’s nice that he had a good attitude about it, but I felt guilty for wasting his time. I never want to waste anyone’s time. How was he for you to talk to?

Arie: Really generous, and that was always so surprising when really big, successful founders that come on are so generous with their time and story. They give their story, the full, like time and effort. But yeah, that is something that I wish we could have recognized that we had it in research and gotten into more specifics about just his experience. It’s not that it’s painful to go over it, although for some people I can see why that would be the case. It’s just like opportunity lost, like we could have talked about more difficult moments with MOD or, you know, details.

Andrew: Yes, that’s exactly it. You’re right that the most successful people are just naturally nice and considerate, and you’re right. It’s just a missed opportunity and a way for us to differentiate ourselves by going a little deeper into something or a little different than what he said before. And we started something this year, 2018, which is regular check-ins on our processes so that they don’t get stale, because I’ve been really good about setting up a system and then I forget about it because it works and it becomes stale and bores people.

And so, on one of the calls, I said, “We need to do something about this. I wish we could hire . . .” A lot of my good stuff comes with, “I wish we could,” that I say out loud, not to myself. Who was it? It was the founder of the tea, Honest Tea. I read his book. I read both of his books in preparation for his interview, and in his book on creativity and where to come up with great ideas, he said, “Think like Croesus.” And I said, “I don’t know who Croesus is,” but apparently he was someone who was like the wealthiest man of his time and if you are like, “rich like Croesus” used to mean that you are super rich.

And he said, “Start out by saying if I had all the money in the world, I was rich as Croesus,” guess that’s what it is, “what would I want?” And then work backwards to how can I get that? And so, in the call, I was forced to say, “I wish we had this researcher who could just go and research every guest.” And then on that call, do you remember how we worked our way through having research for you so that this MOD Pizza thing never happens again?

Arie: We were like, “Okay, a researcher, who on our team would do that?” And then we kind of went through like who could potentially take on a role like that, and it didn’t make sense to add it to anybody’s load. And they were, okay, well, where can we, let’s just pay someone else to do it. And then what platforms could we look to find a researcher, and then we found a few. So that’s, yes, it just kind of took some . . . let’s assume we can do it and then find out like how.

Andrew: And I thought we need to have a professional researcher. And then Marisela said, “Oh, how about if we use Fancy Hands?” And I’ll be honest with you, I thought that was a stupid idea. I only know about Fancy Hands because Alexis Ohanian invested in them, and he said that he could like get plane tickets or something. And it was just like this, all they are is like, I thought of them as stupid hands. Give us your stupid work and we’ll go do that for you. And I said, “This is not stupid work. I need somebody to do research.”

But I liked that she pushed, and she reminded me that one of the things we do is, well, one of the things we stand for is order and systems. The other thing is start simple, start almost laughably simple. And so we took the list of questions that you have in your pre-interview doc and she gave it to Fancy Hands, and for five bucks per, she was able to get some decent research on people. It was helpful. What’s your experience with that?

Arie: It’s completely helpful. I mean the best example of that is we had the founder of Infusionsoft on. And sometimes when you’re talking about a company that big, that has so much media written about them, it’s overwhelming from the pre-interview process to get fully prepared. But having someone else like the same idea, like let’s get a different set of eyes to just kind of find my questions that I eventually need so I don’t have to be asking them cold. They can bring in some context to the question. Yeah, I mean, it makes . . . it improves every part of the process.

Andrew: People used to be shocked that guests would come on Mixergy and talk about their revenue. And my hidden secret in the beginning was I would just look online and I would see that there’s some people who just report their revenue on an ongoing basis. Like think today, the founder of ConvertKit is pretty public about his revenue. He’s not hiding it. He’ll show graphs and everything. And then I would ask the guest and the guest would give it and people go, “How did Andrew get it?”

And some of the people are in the audience and will never be on Mixergy, but some will actually be on Mixergy and they’ll have seen that these other guests give revenue out and they think, “Okay, this is the way you handle a Mixergy interview. I will do it too.” And they’d start giving it out.

Well, the reason that I brought that up is, Touch of Modern, really successful company in the E-commerce space which is really hard to compete in, they had their . . . Fancy Hands found their revenue. How much is their revenue? We have Fancy Hands showing $113 million. And I insist that they also show us where they got it so we can see if it’s just some dopey blog, which doesn’t do any research and will accept anything, or someone who does some research. In this case that came from “Inc.” magazine. They also got us the number of employees at the company, which helps because a company with a lot of employees it would stand to reason that they have a lot of revenue and all that stuff.

Now we don’t walk in cold, but we’ve got some data. We’ve got something that helps, that shows that we care enough to do some research.

Arie: Yeah. And this is relatively new. We started this six, no, maybe even less, four or five months ago.

Andrew: And even that we’re still iterating. In the past I’d have different sets of notes, my notes and your notes and then their notes. And now we’re learning or we’re working on ways to unify them all, so that it’s not overwhelming for you, it’s not overwhelming for me, and it’s clear.

Another lesson that I got from Jason Fried was I think he said if he could teach a class, his class would be on editing. And he said, “I would,” and I could be wrong on the details of this, but it was essentially, “Give someone a 10-page assignment and then tell them to pare it down to one page and then challenge them to pare it down to one paragraph and then one sentence and then one word or three words.” And through the editing process you really learn what’s important and how you can communicate a lot with less.

Arie: Yeah. I think you kind of see that in the pre-interviews too, like a lot of them after that call will ask for feedback from me because they want . . . they’re asking to be edited. Did I go too long here? Like blah, blah, blah. So yes, editing, it’s harder, but it’s more important.

Andrew: And I liked that you brought that up. I find that guests always want to know how they’re doing. I love this conversation that Oprah had with a Stanford student. I guess she was being interviewed on stage at Stanford University. And Oprah said, “You know, I have all these people on, they’re such big shots, and as soon as we stop recording, you know what they all asked me?” And I leaned over to see what do they want to know. It’s, “How did I do?” And I realized, “Oh yes, I do that too.” Whenever I’m being interviewed by someone, I want to know, “How did I do?”

You know what? Let’s go into a second sponsorship message, and then we’ll come back to crying. That was really . . . we should talk about that.

Second sponsor is a company called HostGator. Let me see. Where’s that HostGator? There. Let’s read it the way that she’s got it. And I think what she did was she took my story and she turned it into an outline. I want her to find some others, so I’ll read it the way that she has it.

“Syed Balkhi runs WPBeginner, a well-known WordPress beginner and DIY research. The website generates income from affiliate partnerships. So he needs great hosting that can support a decent amount of traffic. Also, a website all about WordPress can’t be down because it loses credibility. There are tons of WordPress hosts out there. How do you know which one will perform well under peak traffic? Well, Syed ran rigorous tests to evaluate HostGator’s page load times and site performance during peak times. The site performed well, never went down, and as shown a load that was quick from locations all over the world. Syed has been using HostGator since 2007. He says he’s always had an excellent experience with support. Syed has had several other businesses that use HostGator too.

Hostgator.com/mixergy will give you the same hosting package that he has. Actually, no, I shouldn’t say that. That was for me, and I should say that he’s doing the same thing I’m doing. You could sign up for the cheap package that will be great when you’re getting started, but as your site picks up, they will scale with you. And my guess is, I don’t know this for sure, my guess is that he scaled up with them too, that he said, ‘Listen, I need more and more support.’ Their prices are low at the beginning, and they stay low even at the highest levels of their offerings. So if you want the lowest price that they’re offering, right now on service from them, go to hostgator.com/mixergy.

Number one, you’ll be supporting us. This whole operation actually costs money. As you can see, there a lot of people on it, and so thank you for doing that. And number two, you’re going to get the lowest price from them and you get tagged as a Mixergy customer, which means that they’ll take especially good care of you and you can always reach out to us and let us know if you have any issues. We’ll go to bat for you too. hostgator.com/mixergy.”

We need to work with her on that. I like that. I think we could do really well with those. What’s your feedback on that?

Arie: It’s so weird. I was thinking, I don’t know if it’s because I’m looking at you, and so I know that you’re reading, so I would feel like it’s not as powerful as when you’re reading it, but that could just be like audio vision kind of reaction to that.

Andrew: So that’s improvement for me. I need to read this before and internalize it and underline. What I do with everything when I’m getting ready to do an interview or when I’m ready to talk to someone who is a client, I will have a bunch of notes, and then I’ll start to underline keywords that will remind me of the rest of it. I’m not doing that with the sponsors. I spend a lot of time on the guests. I need to spend more time with the sponsors, at least reading this and underlining keywords so that I don’t have to look like I’m reading it or read it word for word. That’s good for me to know.

And for her, I think what we need is to just keep trying different approaches to this. It’s hard to come up with great stories around WordPress hosting from HostGator. It’s like generic, generic, generic WordPress [inaudible 00:42:06] hosting. How do you make that stand out? I think what we need is like case studies of successful entrepreneurs and then happened to say that they’re on HostGator?

Arie: Yeah. I agree.

Andrew: We got to talk to her. But I like the direction we’re going in.

Doug Kaufman, I’ve known Doug Kaufman for a long time. He was a Mixergy customer. He’s a friend. I got together with him and his wife and my wife when we were all living in the D.C. area, and when he was finally ready to come on and tell his story, he talked to you and I said, “Listen, we’re friends. Tell me, is Arie any good?” He goes . . . because right, I want to know it. And he said, “Didn’t you hear? I cried.” And I said, “You what?” He said, “Yeah, I cried.” And so I messaged you and I said, “Arie, why didn’t you tell me that Doug cried?” And do you remember what you said back?

Arie: I don’t actually, which is weird. That should be a big moment.

Andrew: I’ll tell you. You said, “Oh, that’s happened a lot.” I had no idea. So you’ll talk to people and they will cry in the pre-interview?

Arie: Yes, I mean we talk about, okay, first of all, for so many of these people, they’re telling their . . . people may ask them about their business, but not necessarily like their experience and their business like so personally. So a lot of people are telling their story for the first time, and that can be really emotional, especially if there’s baggage associated with it, like a partnership that failed or even like more personal than that, which it gets to sometimes.

Anyone who listens to the podcast knows that. So, and I don’t know, I don’t want to make it like gender, but I think that I bring like a sensitivity to the calls, like I allow people to really open up, and so yeah, it does happen and it puts me in a weird spot, because I don’t want it to go too far where it’s not going to benefit the interview. They’re going to have to re-tell it. So I have to figure out when do I have enough to give you context to say it live, but still maintain like the story narrative.

Andrew: Yeah. Knowing when to shut down the story is helpful, because otherwise they start to say, in the interview, as I told Arie, or as I told you, Andrew before, and so if I ask them a question beforehand, I shut them down and say. “Let’s stop it there so that it can sound fresh for the interview.” And you’re right. I actually learned that from my sister. She was one of the original podcasters on a show called “Keith and The Girl,” and when I was on there, or maybe I had her on Mixergy, I asked her about what she does and she said, “I need to tell them a million times, ‘Don’t say as I told you before, because it sounds awkward to keep saying that.'” And internalize it. And I said, “How can we create an environment where people don’t have to say that? Where they don’t feel like they told me before?” And one way is to do that.

Arie: And I don’t feel like in interviews there’s ever any mention on the guest side of the call either. It really stays pre-production.

Andrew: It really does. And to the point where it actually helps that there a few days and weeks, sometimes . . .

Arie: It sure does.

Andrew: . . . even months because the calendar is so full. The weird thing is they will sometimes be amazed by what we know and forget that they told us. And the reason that that happens is largely because it happened a while back, but also because we do then bring in some outside research and they don’t know. Where did they tell us? Where did they . . . where did we get from someone else?

Arie: I have an example of that.

Andrew: Oh, tell me.

Arie: It was the founder of . . . it was a female founder of the deodorant company, Schmidt’s deodorant.

Andrew: Look, I still use it. I have it here on my desk. It’s so good.

Arie: That’s awesome. Yeah, they sold. But she was telling me about the first version she was doing and she was testing it with her husband and she was putting all these natural elements in it, and he was using a shampoo that had like actual rosemary needles, he would like get in his hair. And so I added that in the notes and you brought it up in the interview and she was like, “Oh, how did you know about that?” It’s like completely fresh.

Andrew: So I think about that interview all the time, because I have their shampoo in my house, and I think I was too fawning in that interview.

Arie: Oh really?

Andrew: I want to go back to bringing in my coach as an interviewer to go over every single outline and every single . . . actually I don’t even need the outline. I just need the transcript. And have him give me feedback. And then we need to come up with ways to confront my fawning style. The fawning style doesn’t do anyone any good. The guest is not looking to be sucked up too. I am not looking to suck up to them. It’s my personal enthusiasm that needs to be kept in check. It’s like being on a first date and going, “Oh my God, I love you. This is so great. Aren’t we great together?” Like you’re actually feeling it in the moment, but it sets these weird expectations for the night and the whole relationship to kick things off with that. And I’ve got to stop that. And with her, I definitely did that. I did way too much of that.

Arie: It’s easy to do though. I mean, when I hear about launches that they got like great media and so they had this big, huge . . . You get excited for them. [inaudible 00:47:20] on that too.

Andrew: Yes, I do too. And that’s the part where I listen to Kara Swisher’s interviews a lot, and she is so like pissed off at tech and jaded by everything, and everyone is like doing something wrong except for a couple of people and they’re probably doing more wrong things too. And I don’t know, if I feel like if the opposite is being this really sharp critic of the guest, or that’s the alternative, I’m not ready to go there. I can live with me being a little too fawning. If I’m ever at a place where I’m interviewing people who I’m there to take down, I’m in the wrong like world. I think that’s necessary, but that’s not me. I want to learn how to be a better person by talking to people who I think have gotten better in certain places, so that I can learn from them.

Arie: Yeah. Well, I think it’s always good to be self-critical and be constantly evaluating your approach, going to that effort to get someone to critique you. But I wouldn’t say that anybody would have that impression of you.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s true. That’s true. I’ve also gotten really good at being myself and being okay with the aggressive part of my personality. I had this guy do a personality test on me in response to the interview that I did with Cameron Herold. He said, “Listen, before you hire anyone else, have a personality test done on yourself.” And usually I would have said, “This is B.S. You’re trying to sell me something. This is hokey. Doesn’t work.”

And then I read Ray Dalio’s book, “The Principles.” And in it he says, “I would do an interview with the potential hire, and I would do research and I would have them take one of these tests. But if I had to pick one, it would be the tests. But I’m glad I don’t have to pick one.” And I thought, “Hey, this guy’s taking it seriously.”

So I had this test done. I got to get this guy’s name. I actually have thought about having him on Mixergy he was so good. He read my soul to a level where even I felt like my wife didn’t know me, and it was shocking and he said, “Look at these numbers, Andrew. There’s this hidden aggression in you that you, and then a bottling up of it inside.” And I realized I should just stop bottling it up. Maybe this is actually part of my personality. It should be expressed in the interviews, and I think that helps.

Arie: Interesting. Like an aggressive seeking of information from people?

Andrew: No. More like . . . it’s like a level of avarice and a level of like determination. The thing that I don’t relate to in Jason Fried’s book is he says in the latest book, what is it called, “Calm”? How to not run a crazy company, something like that. [inaudible 00:49:47] book. He says, “You don’t need to always aspire to more. Just be happy with where you are here.” It’s called “It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work.” “Calm” was the previous name of their book, the previous name that they were thinking of for that book. And then he and David Heinemeier Hansson said, “You know what? That’s not confrontational enough. Let’s just go it, ‘It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work.'” But what I don’t like is that he . . . I don’t relate to that.

Arie: I know you don’t. I mean, you came to Austin and we had dinner or we had lunch with our team after doing an all-day kind of sit down, growth and business development thing, and at lunch you were like driving and everything. And I was like, “We could not be more different in that way.” Yeah.

Andrew: And the truth is I don’t run a company that way, but that’s who I am. I’m not saying to you, “Arie, why didn’t you double the crying this week?”

Arie: No. Yeah, no. It’s not like that.

Andrew: Right? It’s not like that. If anything, I need to bring more of that into the way that we run. Like we don’t even have numbers and metrics or anything and, David says he doesn’t have that either at his company, but if anything I think people could use a little more. Don’t you think? Or am I wrong about that? What do you feel? Forget about everyone else.

Arie: It would be fun just to see it.

Andrew: The metrics. What we’re aiming, what would . . . to see what?

Arie: Yeah. Just to see if we as a team would respond to something like that and if it would create any change. I mean, I don’t think that I would have loved that, like, leadership style long term, but I would be curious.

Andrew: Yeah. I think that we’ll do a little bit more of it next year, but not so much that it feels artificial. Again, we’ll iterate into it. We’ll try that and we’ll see how it works. It probably won’t work, and then we’ll fail and we’ll try again and again and again and again, and then we’ll make it work.

But that’s another personality trait. I’m like that for everything, like the first poker game that I might do at my house would suck, maybe one person would show up and we’ll end up playing chess or I’ll feel really awkward about it. And then the next one we’ll have too many people, and then we’ll have not enough this, not enough that. I’ll just keep iterating until I get it right. And then poker at my house becomes a thing that everyone wants to be invited to. And that actually takes a lot of pressure off of starting new things, going into them, “This is going to bomb,” but it’s going to be great in the long term.

Okay. Let’s talk about other things that we could do to improve. I’m also big on that. I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Plan B.” [sic] This is after . . . I don’t want to use this in an interview, but I also don’t want to hide myself in an interview. So Olivia was pregnant. We were expecting to have a baby about two months ago. I was actually just walking to the bathroom before we started here thinking, wow, it’s so fun to have the kids in the weekend. But we could have had another two-month-old right now. And it’s like, every once in a while it goes through my head. It was pretty significant that the pregnancy didn’t come to fruition. I don’t mean to blow past it, but I forgot what I was going to say about that. I just suddenly got emotional about that and stopped thinking about where I was going with that.

It doesn’t matter. It’ll come to me later, unfortunately. Let’s talk about . . .

Arie: We were going to talk about other things that we’ve been improving.

Andrew: Oh, yes, right. And why I read “Plan B” [sic]. Thank you. One of the things that I got out of “Plan B” [sic] was how to deal with this and just being comfortable talking about it and also feeling that when someone else has an issue, like a loss of a parent or something, that it’s okay to bring it up and it’s just reaffirming bringing it up. The other little thing that came up was she said that at Facebook they learned that they need to do a postmortem on everything. And I try to do it in the interviews if I have . . . if I do something like an ad, I do the postmortem within the interview. I wonder if that drives people crazy. You’ve listened. What do you think? Is that a crazy making thing?

Arie: I don’t think so. I think in, well, typically they involve the guest in some way, which is much less uncomfortable than just reading it and like pretending they don’t exist and then yeah, and then getting their feedback. I like it. I think that also it’s like, instead of letting things land, if it was bad, just address it in a thing. It’ll prevent people from feeling like they need to email you to tell you about it [inaudible 00:53:51] aware.

Andrew: It does open you up to feedback. You know, if you’re giving yourself feedback and asking for it, people are going to hit you with more. And I think that as a podcaster and a public person, I think that it could also lead to this perception that I’m needy and constantly questioning myself, which I’m not. I don’t walk through my life questioning myself. I’ve learned to just like let things go. If one person shows up to my house for poker, I go, “Screw that, I’ll be fine,” the next poker game.

But I do do constant postmortems on stuff, and I try to bring as much of it into the interview as possible. So, with that in mind, let’s talk about some of the postmortems, some of the things that I’d like to do better.

Let’s see. Finding files on the computer is so hard. You know, let’s start with the microphone. I’ve had this vision, we should be buying mics for every guest. It drives me crazy when you can’t listen to a guest. We’re now finally implementing this. How’s that? Talk about the first version of it and then how that’s playing out.

Arie: Well, it was kind of like something we couldn’t not address. The audio in our interviews was something that, it was like a perennial, just like chronic issue for us. It was really . . . some were unlistenable. It’s just so uncool to do that to people listening. So it was something we didn’t know how to fix. We tried doing it in editing. We tried a few different things, and yeah, exactly like you said, like if we had all the money in the world to fix this, we could set guests up with like something to be pro at. So that’s how it started, and we tested it in a really small way. We just sent a few guests mics before the interview, and it was helpful. First of all, they loved it. It’s a good kind of like just warming thing, they can keep it. So that’s how it started.

Andrew: I would even go back further since you brought it up, is the bigger issue being bad audio, one of the problems that we have when we have systems is the systems become locked in and then everything depends on every little piece. And so we were with Skype for a long time. And I dreamt of switching away from Skype for a long time, because Skype isn’t really that good for recording. Like you and I are crystal clear. Skype does not give you this level of audio quality. But I was reluctant to switch away, because your process for editing interviews depends on the Skype recording output that we get. And then the next step depends on that. And then every guest already has in their calendar my Skype link as the way of doing things.

And then I also don’t want to have you go crazy trying to figure it out. Since we work remotely, how am I going to show you? And by getting on monthly calls to talk about improving, I finally had the space to say, “We need to improve this and realize even if it means that Arie is going to have to go crazy, we’re going to find a way to use different software.”

Arie: Yeah. And I think even me implementing changes, I’m like, “Okay, well this will be a great thing for us to start in the fall or something like that.” You’re very much like, “No, let’s do it this week. We’ve already got three guests booked. Like let’s just make the change and then let’s email them, let them know.” And so you’re much more like iterative that way.

Andrew: And it is a little bit of crazy making for the guests. But it’s fine. Once we talk about it, you realize it’s crazy making, but we have to think about what’s crazy about it. And then we’ll find a solution. Like for a while there, I kept Skype on my desktop open while I had Zoom just in case the guest didn’t have the link. Fine.

So that was one thing that we did. We’re still struggling to find a way to send the mics to people. I shouldn’t say struggling, but we need to iterate on that. And the latest thing we said was Andrea, my assistant will just contact guests the week before and say, “Can I send you a mic? Where do I send it?” And then we’ll do that. I think we need to keep fixing it so that it’s automated. We need to find a way to automate mic sending to everyone. And we can’t do it a month ahead. It’s got to be like a week before so that it can get to them in time, but also so that it’s not so far ahead that they forget where they put the mic. Right?

Arie: Yeah. And there’s going to be a degree of failure, because sometimes we book people at the last minute and there’s no time or they moved around or . . . So . . .

Andrew: Yeah. I want to get to perfection with that, but I do have to learn that it’s not going to be perfection and we’ll get to it. We’ll get to it. That actually is something that Cameron Herold, when I told him I needed a COO to organize this like mic delivery, he said, “And it’s not going to be a 100%, and you’re going to be okay with it.” I was like, “Oh, yeah, I wasn’t okay with it until you brought that up.”

Arie: I thought you were actually going to talk about you positioning your mic. That was like a small change.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. Talk about that. You want to talk about that?

Arie: Yeah. I mean even, first of all, we were trying to figure out how to edit in a more efficient way, and one thing I was having to do, if anyone is familiar with editing audio in a software like Audacity, is I had to go through for each silent part while the guest was speaking to silence Andrew’s microphone, because the way it was positioning, it was picking up . . . any listeners may remember the typing on the keyboard or just hitting the desk or whatever. And so I don’t even know how it came up. We were just on a call, and I don’t know if it was your idea or someone on the team’s idea, but we just tilted the microphone up so [inaudible 00:59:12] more to your face and not pointed at the desk, and yes.

Andrew: And it helped a lot.

Arie: Helped a lot.

Andrew: And then I realized that this mic doesn’t work like that, and then I had to go back to the Regus front desk and say, “Do you have a couple of pliers?” And they gave me pliers and I tried adjusting it, and then that didn’t work and then this didn’t work, like all these little things and the fact that we have to keep improving and then I’m telling you that we need to improve and I’m pushing myself, and as a group, it pushed me to just work through that issue.

And the first . . . the reason that the first attempt didn’t work is Zoom, just like Skype, has this feature where they’ll automatically adjust the mic volume. So when I was moving the mic over here, as soon as I started typing on the keyboard, Zoom would say, “I can’t hear that. I’m going to adjust Andrew’s mic, make it really loud,” and then it would pick up on that audio, and it took me a while to figure it out that’s what was going on and I just kept testing and testing until I figured it out.

The other thing was I really love these ongoing improvement calls that we have, partially because of what you just said. I don’t know who came up with the idea that we should adjust the mic. This is not the type of thing you put on an agenda item. Let’s figure out how to adjust the mic. Right? It’s a thing that maybe two calls, nothing happens. And then the third one goes, “Hey, why don’t we just adjust the mic?” We realize yeah, that does it. And it also kind of holds us accountable.

So I remember, when I interviewed the founder of Gimlet Media, this is guy who worked for NPR and has got a really good, professional broadcasting experience, and he said, “I don’t take anyone seriously unless they wear monitors like earphones while they’re doing it, because if they care about audio quality, if they care about podcasting a show and they don’t care to listen to themselves to make sure that they’re on mic properly, how am I going to take them seriously?”

And I was not wearing earphones at the time because I said, “Who needs it? It’s a distraction.” What I should have done when he said, “We want to improve the audio quality. Let’s just try what’s this guy suggesting.” I didn’t have that rhythm with you to get on calls and say, “All right, here’s my place where I have to show up with something.”

Arie: Yeah. So that was like, what, like months and months later, longer?

Andrew: Years later, years later we finally did this call . . . these set of calls, and then it came up. The calls are very much like . . . Do you ever watch “The Sopranos”?

Arie: Oh my God, I’ve seen every single episode twice.

Andrew: I’ve got to find this one episode. Tell me if this is from “The Sopranos,” and you’ll recognize it if it is. There’s a scene where the junior guys, the younger guys had to show that they were hitting their numbers. They would have the number of theft that they would have to go in. And Chris, for example, did like a last-minute theft of a high school dance or something, you know, because he had to get his numbers.

Arie: Oh, yeah, I remember that episode, yeah.

Andrew: And then in another one, somebody came in with parking meters, broken on the coffee table or at the table at this restaurant, and they were breaking it because they were going to rob the quarters out of the parking meter.

Arie: Yeah.

Andrew: Sopranos, maybe it was something else. Does that sound at all familiar?

Arie: I don’t think that’s the same, but definitely the first one.

Andrew: Maybe it’s a different one.

Arie: Yeah.

Andrew: And I always liked that, that they had these numbers that they had to hit and they would do anything creative, even something crazy like that to get their numbers. And if we . . . I don’t know that we have to have numbers, but if we have an ongoing self-improvement mentality, every little thing could be that crazy thing that ends up working, like adjust the mic, put the earphones in, go buy them. And my first set of earphones did not work because I hate wired earphones. I’m all wireless. So I got wireless earphones, and I got this wireless dongle thing, and that wasn’t working because I heard an echo, which I could deal with, but then it wasn’t connecting properly. And then I said, “All right, I’m going to get on a call with Arie, I’ve got to talk to her about how I did things. And so I finally just got these earphones and they’re working.”

Arie: Yeah, it forces creativity. Even just getting on the phone and talking. I mean, those calls last an hour, and you end up, it just creates the opportunity to make suggestions [inaudible 01:02:57] things.

Andrew: You mean things from the guest?

Arie: No, I mean like on our team calls. Like doing the team calls. Yeah.

Andrew: There was a time when people thought that interview podcasts needed to be 15 minutes and the world just thought I was stupid for going an hour. Even if you publish 15 minutes, I think you’ve got to talk an hour because it’s not until later on that the good stuff comes out. People don’t just say, “Hey, it’s good to meet you. We’ve got 15 minutes. All right, let me tell you about how my dad died yesterday and, as a result, I had to start this company last night.” No, it takes a little while.

Arie: It’s too overwhelming.

Andrew: Let’s do one more thing that we could improve and then I’ll give them my dream list. Is there something that stands out for you? Something that I could be doing to improve?

Arie: To improve? You can tell me if an interview has been recorded.

Andrew: Yeah. If it’s not recorded, you’re hunting down the audio file because I don’t . . . All right. So let’s talk through this problem and we’ll do it on our weekly call or a monthly call, whenever. But my problem is that I finish an interview, and immediately I’ve got to jump to the next one or, you know, take a bathroom break for a minute and then jump into the next one. What I used to do was I would go into Pipedrive and just dragged their card to the final column, and then that would send an alert to you and say, “Arie, Andrew just finished this interview.” I don’t do that anymore, because even that takes an extra minute and I don’t spend the time on that. And that’s a problem. I need something that eliminates steps and just naturally is part of the process. All right. Do you have an idea right now, because I think once we bring this stuff up it . . .

Arie: You don’t want to do it during the interview. But Andrea would fuss at me all the time because I never put my cards in the did the pre-interview column, and so I had it open, the window, during my calls and then just like either while I’m waiting, but I know we’re going to record it, just go ahead and do it. It’s kind of a cheat, but gets it done.

Andrew: You know what she could do is . . . see this is where the creativity comes out. I always will open up the research doc before an interview. What if instead of putting the research doc for me in my calendar, she puts the Pipedrive link in the calendar, and then I have to open up Pipedrive in order to get my research and that forces me, right, to then go and mark them as done.

Arie: Perfect.

Andrew: All right. Let’s bring that up on the call and do that. I think she could do it. And the reason I need that is sometimes I’m racing from one interview to the next. I can’t even go into my Google drive to find them. She needs to put it on the calendar so I could click a link and go. Or if I have five minutes, like I did this morning, before taking the kids to school, I just go to my calendar. Who am I going to talk to? Let’s hit that link. Let’s start researching in the five minutes, get that mind thinking about the guest and then I’m ready to go.

Here’s my dream. A next big step. If I was rich as Croesus, or Mixergy was, here’s what I would do. I would love it, if before every interview, we talked to people who are in the guest’s space. Somebody on the team should do it. Like I just talked to the founder of . . . What was it called? Gold Star. No, not Gold Star. What’s the . . . GoldMine. The old CRM. That did $100 million in sales. I had no idea. And then after he sold it, he started another one, Nimble, that’s doing $100 million in sales. I had no idea that Nimble was doing that much. A hundred million dollars? The guy’s competing with Salesforce. He’s doing 100 . . . anyway.

I would love it if I interviewed the founder of Act. Somebody should go and talk to the founder of Act and say, “Hey, what’s this guy really like?” He is competing in a world with a couple of other CRMs. Why is he doing well where others are struggling? Or is he even doing well where others are struggling? There are a couple of other CRM founders who would be able to tell us things about what they do that’s good and what they’re not telling you. Like, for all I know, it’s $100 million because he’s in the pocket of Microsoft. This is not true. So I’m just going to make something up. He’s in the pocket of Microsoft, Microsoft forces him to pay out a 100% of all of its sales to them, and he’s losing money, but he’s hoping that he’ll start bringing in other partners like Microsoft.

I wouldn’t know that stuff. I’m not in the world. There’s no research. He’s never going to reveal it, but their competitors would. Their competitors spend a lot of time thinking about what’s going on in this space. So I could and do call people up sometimes to find out about them, but I can’t do that enough and I never think to do it until like five minutes before the interview, and thankfully I had enough good relationships in the space that if I call someone five minutes before an interview or text them and say, “I got to ask you about this,” they’ll get on, they’ll spend five minutes, and they’ll give me a lot of details. But . . .

Arie: Well, what would that look like, because in your dream scenario, I don’t think it involved you doing more work?

Andrew: No. It would be . . . in my dream scenario, it would be someone with your ability to talk to people and a little experience with us saying, “Hey, wait a minute, wait a minute. Who’s Andrew going to interview? Who’s . . .” Let’s just see if there’s anyone that we interviewed that’s like that. Now we have their cell phone number. I’m going to text them and say, “Hey, Andrew is about to interview this guy. I’m about to do a pre-interview, whatever, we’re about to get this person on. What do you think?” That would be helpful.

I would even suggest we think about . . . and then we start to iterate it, but competitors are a natural. They’re in the space. They want you to know the space. They want you to do it. “The Wall Street Journal” would do that. They’d talk to competitors before they’d publish an article about someone. And then I’d take it to the next level. Like I talked to Russell Brunson. He paid to fly me and my family out to interview him. He knew the way that I work.

He gave me a bunch of research. I did my own research. It’s no secret that I said who did he fire, and who would not like him, and then I contacted those people to get a better sense of what’s going on. Now, am I being a dick? Am I being a jerk by doing that? I don’t think so. I’m not there to embarrass him and go, “Here’s how you lied and fired someone.” But I am there to understand him, and someone who was there before would give me a good understanding of what the software had that worked well.

Like here’s something I had no idea about. I had no idea there was any animosity between ClickFunnels and Leadpages. I had no idea. Yeah, they might like . . . ClickFunnels might say some things about Leadpages as jokes, but who cares? They say things about Infusionsoft as jokes and they make fun of Infusionsoft, but they still partner with them. I had to talk to people who work for them to understand the animosity. And there’s some things that were a little unpleasant about the Leadpages thing that I didn’t bring up, but I know where not to and I know where I need to understand it and I know where someone can’t snow me and say I came up with this idea to out of the blue without like acknowledging that Leadpages had something to do with it and they weren’t hiding the fact that Leadpages inspired them to create ClickFunnels

Arie: And there is some vetting of that information, because it is coming from a competitor and you want to make sure that it’s legitimate.

Andrew: Right. And we could say things like, “How much of your partnership it seems . . . is it true that 100% of your money would go to Microsoft from your partnership?”

Arie: Right, [inaudible 01:10:06] software. Right.

Andrew: Stuff like that.

Arie: But we’re in a position, unlike a podcast that would be just starting out, to incorporate something like that, because we do . . . I mean, there’s probably just buckets of similar companies that do similar things in our archive that, you know, have the context and do that, which means there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be doing that.

Andrew: Okay. So then that means we need to take our next step. Who does this, what’s our process for doing it, and how do we iterate fast? And iterating fast might mean a couple of for your pre-interviews and a couple for my interviews are who we are going to find out about. Yeah. Somebody needs to do that and send it out and we need to . . . Oh, I like that you’re taking it to this level.

By the way, there’s no extra money that’s going to come from this. If anything, I promise you we’re going to end up with less money because we do this. Me, like potentially challenging every guest, here’s how it ruins . . . how it means less money. Number one, the fraudsters who are really good at self-promotion stay away from Mixergy because of that. Russell Brunson doesn’t give a rat’s butt that I’m going to talk to his competitors, talk to his . . . He knows his story and he’s totally fine with it. Someone who’s just looking to make a name for themselves, and then will buy ads to promote the interview, they’re not showing up to this because they don’t want to take the risk. Someone who’s made it, it’s not a risk, so that’s number one.

Number two, there’s no way these guys are going to like want to be associated as guests, as sponsors in the future. Think about how many times you see a guest become a sponsor of the podcast, so they’re gone. There’s lots of and also the audience doesn’t care. They want to hear the story. They don’t care that Microsoft is giving 100% of their revenue to someone, to a guest. They don’t care. I care. I have to care, and I know that if the founder of Tuft &Needle, I told you before, like this weekend I got two Tuft & Needle mattresses to my house.

The founder was listening to these interviews, buying Mixergy Premium as he was starting bootstrapping his business. He’s now into, I don’t know how much, over $100 million in sales. Your memory’s better than mine. Bootstrapping company. It means a lot to me that he is listening and says, “This is a substantive podcast. This is a substantive interview.”

I’m not going to make any more money from that, but it does mean a lot. We got to do that. This is where I get like on my high horse on this. Is it not a high horse? This is where I become impassioned. I liked that you’re pushing it to the next level. You’re not saying, “Andrew, that would be really nice, or come on Andrew,” because I can’t work with people like that. What I want is to work with people who say, “Let’s find a way we could do that. Someone needs to do that.”

Arie: Yeah, I mean mostly I just want to hear that information and I want to know, especially as businesses sometimes, like CRM especially, there’s so many people in it, and like what is making one company different from another. You [inaudible 01:12:59] that information by talking to the founder, but it’s not like the full picture.

Andrew: You know, that’s exactly it, that you just want to know. You want to get to the bottom of it and also take pride and also improving the product. So the one thing that we can never lose is the reputation of the work that we do. There’s no way that someone’s going to put up with an interview like this. Nimble is not going to get a ton of new customers because he was on Mixergy. What is he going to get?

Let’s suppose, we kill it for him. He gets 100 new customers. He’s doing $100 million in sales. How much is 100 new customers worth to them? It’s a drop in the bucket. So there’s no way he’s going to do it if he thinks that what we’re here to do is get him by talking to his competitors. But if he knows that we’re here to get him and understand him, then he’s going to feel proud to be on here and he’s going to want to be on here. And even if his team says, “Are you sure?” he’s going to say, “Yes, this is a substantive place.”

The only thing we can’t give up is that sense of coming from a good place, and I’m the one who has to check myself, because as I go running, sometimes I’ll hear an entrepreneur get away with murder. I go, “I got to get them on Mixergy and show him and show the world that he’s a fraud.” And I always have to shut that down. That’s what ruins everything. I have to get them on and understand how they got there.

Arie: Yeah. And like we were saying in the beginning of the call, if the objections from the audience are addressed in the interview, like they may have more information than we do and are sitting at home being like, “Oh, this is why,” but it makes the company . . . It’s just by addressing, it’s more validating to the company and the story and the reputation.

Andrew: Yeah. Right. Just like those examples that you gave up before, more you bring it up, the more confidence people have in you and your story. Arie, thanks so much for being on here. How does it feel to be on here?

Arie: It’s really fun. I’m glad that now I understand what it is that the guest is going to experience after I talked to them so I can even maybe better prepare them for that.

Andrew: Yeah. I always feel like it’s so much fun at the end. This is why my interviews last long. If my wife sees something on my calendar, like an interview that ends at 4:00, she’s got to learn don’t put something on my calendar for 4:00 right after. Understand I’m going to be so excited. It’s going to be another 15 minutes at least, and then sometimes like the founder of Nimble, he and I were on for 25 minutes. He would have stayed on for another hour, I swear, because I talked to them about Nimble and he loved it. Except I said I’ve got to go talk to Arie. It’s fun. It’s good. It’s fun.

Arie: Yeah, it is.

Andrew: All right. So everybody out there, go check out hostgator.com/mixergy, number one. Number two, if you need to hire a developer, toptal.com/mixergy. These are two companies, especially Toptal, that believe in the Mixergy mission so much that they understand that there’s a little danger in associating with it at Toptal, and they are really buttoned down and they don’t want to associate with danger, but they believe so much in the mission here that they’re supporting it and backing it. So guys, go check out Toptal.

And then one more thing, I stopped iterating on courses at Mixergy, and we’re finally kicking it back up, and iterating on courses means I brought somebody on. I hired somebody from . . . can I say who it is? Sure. From Treehouse who did courses for Treehouse, for MarketingProfs. I said, “Look, Dan, you’re really good at this. I need you in here. Can you create new courses for us at Mixergy Premium?” That’s where people pay us on a monthly basis to get access to the top entrepreneurs to teach them. So we’re iterating on it. I need to iterate. I know you’ve got to run, Arie, but I got to do this with you listening for your feedback too.

Arie: No. I’m good.

Andrew: We’re like 40 minutes over.

Arie: I actually am flattered, because I know that like better interviews tend to go longer.

Andrew: That’s true, right?

Arie: Yeah. I’m not worried about it.

Andrew: So what I need to do is get better at talking about Mixergy Premium. And it means I’m going to spend some time talking about this one episode, and then we’ve got another and another and another we’re going to talk about.

But the one that Dan did as a first shot was I told him about this guy who’s book I’m holding up, Scott Bintz, who came on here to Mixergy to talk about how he had this truck company, selling truck parts. Nobody believed he could do it, but he was able to sell truck parts online, and then he got it to a few million dollars in sales, and he felt like, “Ah, blah.” And before I was in business, Arie, I would’ve thought, “Come on, a million in sales. He’s lying. He must have loved it.”

What I realize now is anything, we get used to any number, number one and number two, if he’s doing $3 million in sales, it doesn’t mean that he’s got big profits. There’s a good chance that that’s just eking out a profit because there’s so many expenses that go into running a business and you don’t get economies of scale at that level.

So anyway, he was feeling blahs. He tried improving the culture of his company, and it didn’t work out. And so he had a company of people that he didn’t feel great about working with, even though he knew they were good because he helped pick them. And then what he did was he did this tour where he started to go and check out all the companies whose culture and growth he admired, and he gave us pictures of himself in front of the Zappos building before he went in, or maybe in the Zappos building and in front of the Google Plex before he went in to talk to them. Very touristy, very like a guy who would be like a truck company owner is what he comes across as he’s doing this like, “Golly gee, you’ve got this Android big poster outside of your or big sign,” or what was it? It was a statue of Android, right outside of your office. We’re going to take a picture of it and took a picture in front of it.

But he also went inside and he learned how they created their cultures. He internalized it. He then started working on his culture, the way that people would work on their bodies if they were working out a little at a time until it became this thing that was just super muscular. And he said, “Here’s what we stand for. Here’s how we’re going to improve it.” And like one thing he did was he said, “Look, in the past I might’ve rolled out every little bit . . . every principle that we have all at once,” but he said, “I’m going to take them one at a time and start rolling out these principles one at a time. We’re going to take a month of focusing on how do we deliver more, and then everyone on the team has to come up with a creative way to deliver more. And then it’s not just deliver more for our customers, which we’re doing great and it’s increasing sales. What if we deliver more to our suppliers? Think about what that would look like.” And then they’d come up with these great ideas, and then the next month it’s another idea and another idea.

Anyway, he’s got this process for doing it. He loves working at the company so much at the end of this that they’re taking pictures of themselves doing fun things, going to fun places, showing their suppliers get excited about showing up to their office because they want to make people feel great. That’s one of their principles, and so they have these pictures of suppliers coming in and feeling great about being there.

Anyway, he ends up with I think $100 million in sales, fun company that he loves doing business with, and then he sells it and he pursues passion projects. Like, I don’t know if I told you. He sent me tons of coffee. I didn’t even know who sent it to me. I asked Andrea, “Who sent me this freaking coffee?” It was him. It’s one of his passion projects.

And another one is saying, “Look, I learned about culture from these other people. I’m going to teach other entrepreneurs about culture.” He wrote this book. We invited him to teach a course on it for Mixergy Premium. If you want to go check it out, check it out at mixergy.com/premium. And if you’re Mixergy Premium member, please go check out his course. It’s in mixergy.com/courses. So I’m proud to have him on here, and I’m proud that we’ve started this new approach to courses.

This is what I always do after that. I should just leave it there. I got to do a breakdown. Number one, it went too long, right?

Arie: Yes.

Andrew: It felt a little bit long. I do like the structure of setting up the story and telling it. What else? What feedback do you have on it?

Arie: Well, I think that culture as a course is, I mean, you know, one of the questions in the pre-interview is what’s the biggest challenge and for anyone building a business if they get some like traction early on, they all of a sudden doubled their workforce. They’ve totally lost like who they are. No one knows anyone’s name. So, I mean, just based on the content, it’s exciting because I think it’s something that if people in our audience are building real businesses, they want to check out.

Andrew: I do see that. I think we hit on a good topic. I think we need to spend some time improving my way of presenting it. All right. I like this. You see, I love working an iterative process, iterative company.

Arie, thanks so much for being on here. I hope this won’t be the last. Guys, this is one of our new ones. Now it’s your turn to give us feedback. What do you think of a way that we just did this? I’d love to have more people on Mixergy. I’d love to have Arie come back on here and do another one of these sessions. Give us feedback. Go to email contact@mixergy.com and it’ll go to all of us. So be aware that Arie is going to look at those [inaudible 01:21:11], right?

Arie: I want to see it.

Andrew: Good. Thanks, Arie.

Arie: Okay. Bye.

Andrew: Bye, everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.

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