Scott Gerber of YEC returns to Mixergy

I’m constantly worried about my own reputation, and here’s what scared me about today’s guesy. Scott Gerber sent me this sizzle reel that made him look so good.

I go, “This is a guy who’s really good at being on the news, but I don’t even fricking know his company.” I had him on for an interview. And then he contacted me at some point afterwards, and he said, “I started this new thing that’s called Young Entrepreneurs Council.”

Here’s why I invited him back. Community building is a pain in the ass. We all try to do it, and then we embarrass ourselves if we don’t get it right. And so this guy Scott says, “I got it right. I think I could turn it into like a service.” And so he did, and he built it up.

Scott Gerber is the founder of The Community Company. They build communities for media companies and global brands.

Scott Gerber

Scott Gerber

The Community Company

Scott Gerber is the founder of The Community Company. They build communities for media companies and global brands.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. And I constantly get surprised by what ends up being a successful business. I’m going to be honest with you. Today’s guest, when I first heard about him via email, I was a little scared. Scared of having him on Mixergy. I’m constantly worried about my own reputation, and here’s what scared me, Scott. Scott sent me this sizzle reel that made him look so good. He was on like Fox Business, wearing a suit, being so professional.

And just when you’re watching him on whatever this was, Fox Business something, the clip went over to another major news. I go, “This is a guy who’s really good at being on the news, but I don’t even fricking know his company.” I said, “You know what?” He’s so good. I looked him up. He’s got something there. Let’s have him on. I had him on for an interview. And then he contacted me at some point afterwards, and he said, “You know, Andrew, this business that I had before is there, but I started this new thing that’s called Young Entrepreneurs.” What was it, YEC? Young Entrepreneurs . . .

Scott: Council.

Andrew: Council. Thank you. I don’t know why I just spaced on that one word. Young Entrepreneurs Council. And he said, “Andrew, you should be a part of it.” And I go, “Another group for entrepreneurs? Thank you.” I was nice. In my head, I go, “Eh, it’s probably going to go away.” And then I had people over here for scotch. Fricking A. They are boasting about being in YEC. People then start asking to be interviewed on Mixergy, and part of the way that they get on, or that they think they’re going to get on, is they say, “I am part of YEC.” And then we were living in Washington, D.C., and my wife and I went out for dinner with this couple. I don’t even know who they are. And the woman there was talking about being part of YEC.

I go, “Dammit, what the hell? How did he do it?” How did I not know it was there, and how did he fricking do it? Because all these communities go away. And I’ll be honest, my communities that I started from Mixergy didn’t survive very long, because it’s a pain in the butt to do it. But still, he contacted me a little while back and he said, “Listen, Andrew, I created this new thing as part of YEC. It’s called the Community Company, and I think you’d want to have me on.” And I do this even for my friends, Scott, even my best friends. I email back and go, “Show me the fricking numbers.” But you would think by now I would see the progress that the guy makes. And he sent me the numbers, and I go, “You know what? Let’s have you on here.”

And I didn’t even look at the fricking deal behind the company beyond the numbers. And this is one of my weaknesses. I care a lot about numbers. It’s also one of the reasons why I think Mixergy’s strong, that we’re just not having anyone on here because they have a great idea. We want to make sure that they’re proven entrepreneurs. And so you sent me the numbers. It was impressive. Then I looked at the company and I realized, “Oh, this makes sense.” Community building is a pain in the ass. We all try to do it, and then we embarrass ourselves if we don’t get it right. And so this guy Scott says, “I got it right. I think I could turn it into like a service.” And so he did, and he built it up.

And we’ll find out how many customers he has, or how much revenue, because I’m a numbers person. But we’ll also hear the story of how YEC succeeded where so many others failed, and then how he turned that into this service. All right, I should say, the company is called The Community Company. The one sentence description he gave me before we started is, “They build communities for media companies and global brands.” The entrepreneur’s name is Scott Gerber. You’ve heard him here on Mixergy before. I’m proud to have him back on here. And this whole interview is sponsored by two great organizations. The first is a conference that I fricking love. It’s called Fireside Conf. And the second is a company that I’ve hired great talent from. It’s called Toptal. I’ll tell you more about those later. Scott, good to have you on here.

Scott: Thanks for having me back, man.

Andrew: What do you think about the way that I introduced you?

Scott:Oh, I love it.

Andrew:Do you feel like maybe because there’s so much sizzle there that maybe people are wondering?

Scott: You know, Andrew, what I respect so much about the way you think about entrepreneurship is that you actually look beyond the TechCrunch headlines to actually see, “Well, do they make money?” I think today I would rather be introduced as, “This sounds like such glitz and glam,” and be like, “Oh, by the way, there’s steak, not just sizzle.” Whereas 90% of, I think, business owners today that get the big funding rounds that are plastered all over the place are probably not very adjusted to a sleeping schedule. Because if they have the burn rate. If I had their burn rate, I would be feeling as if I was going to have a heart attack on a daily basis. But here we built a sustainable business with 100 employees and many years of traction.

Andrew: A hundred employees now. Outside funding?

Scott: We only had taken a series A, and that was three and a half years ago, about $4 million.

Andrew: Four million after YEC. Excuse me. After YEC and before The Community Company launch. Is that right?

Scott: That’s correct. So we basically took that model and found a way to create a real monetization strategy around community building. And obviously, I’m happy to defend how successful our business is, and . . .

Andrew: Give me the numbers. How much revenue in 2017? Actually, you know what? We’re halfway through 2018.

Scott: Yeah, we’re through ’18. We’re projected to do roughly around $10 million this year in cash, not accrual.

Andrew: Would you say over the last 12 months you made $10 million?

Scott: I would say we’ve probably done around six or seven.

Andrew: Six or seven. And then the first half of this year, how much?

Scott: I would say we are currently, we’re probably somewhere in the $5 million, $5.5 million range currently, give or take.

Andrew: Impressive. Profitable?

Scott: Profitable, cash flow positive. No more need for funding. You know, just a real business. I don’t want to scare people. They’re thinking, like, “Oh my God, it’s a real company. Everybody run for the hills.” We’re changing the world, but we’re not necessarily going to have to change, you know, every single major industry in order to get a real business out of it. So no, I think that, going back to your core question, I’m happy you poked me, and I’m really excited to share the why this company does make sense.

Andrew: Yeah, let’s talk about it. So YEC, the original idea, was what? I want to talk about YEC and then build it up to The Community Company.

Scott: Yeah, so my first business, as we talked about in the last time I was on your show [inaudible 00:05:50] miserably, mainly because I didn’t have anybody around me. And so at that time . . .

Andrew: You failed miserably. What was the business?

Scott: It was a production company for creating basically all kinds of multimedia projects for the advertising industry.

Andrew: We’re talking about Sizzle It.

Scott: This is before that. Sizzle It was the first business that I ended up being successful at, right out of college, based on all the lessons learned from that failed business. But in between, I sort of made a promise to myself, saying, “Look, you know, if I ever find myself being successful with a business, I want to make sure that no young entrepreneur feels the same way I did when I had that failed business.” Because no one was around me. I didn’t have friends, family, peers, mentors, whatever, anyone with an entrepreneurial bent. Once Sizzle It became successful, I started bringing all these young entrepreneurs together, just sort of fulfilling that promise. Not with a business model in mind, per se, but just, you know, like most of these groups start. You get a bunch of people you’ve met along the way that have a certain level of success to build everybody up together.

Andrew: You know what? Let’s also be honest. Fair enough to say, I’ve watched you now over the years, fair enough to say that there’s also an ego involved. That you really shine when you get to show people how to be better entrepreneurs. When someone puts you on the spot and goes, “My business is failing,” and in the moment, you come up with an answer. And they look at you like you’re Jesus. You love that.

Scott: I’m not going to lie and say I don’t enjoy it. I think that over the past couple years where the difference has been between when I started YEC to now. And it really speaks to the maturity of any business owner that goes through now almost nearly a decade of working on an idea. And that is is that that stuff back then when I was really focusing on just Young Entrepreneurs, that was sort of the idea to bring a lot of young entrepreneurs together. Because I wanted to sort of, you know, build this by mission. Personal brand drives mission in this day and age, especially earlier where there were less Gary Vs in the world, so to speak. And so that was a big part of it.

Today, because I run many different communities, you know, I take the back seat. I let the brands and the constituents really be the ones that are the owners of that. And I think it took a lot of learning to realize, “When’s the time to be the front man and when’s the time to play driver?”

Andrew: Okay, how did this vision look? First of all, you like shining, and you’re good on camera, and you’re good leading. And second, you said, “I wanted this kind of help. I have the opportunity. I’m going to help people.” In the beginning, it seemed like it wasn’t just about . . . it was partially about the community. But I looked at some of the past people I interviewed who were part of YEC. What they loved about it was you were so fricking good at getting press that you would then do these collection of quotes from entrepreneurs that would end up on Forbes. I asked Tim Sykes, because he’s a bigger asshole than I am, right? And he’ll say it. I said, “Why are you part of YEC?” He goes, “This guy gives me great press. I don’t have to do anything. He sends me a question. I answer the question,” and that guy knows how to produce, like, interesting answers. He sends it to you and boom, he’s in fricking Forbes. Right? Elevates his brand, gets him more customers. And that’s the thing that you’re offering as a hook, “I’m good at press. I’m going to get it for you.”

Scott: I think we understood fundamentally what entrepreneurs at that development stage needed. You’re either in the need for building, the need for visibility, or the need for growth opportunities. That’s more your mentorship, your coaching, you know. That’s the cycle. Because you need to have strong visibility right at the beginning to break out from the series A or C pack, or so on and so forth. So that certainly one of the early benefits we learned very quickly that media was one of those things that I don’t think really anyone else sort of had their hook on. And the media landscape, while everybody now it’s tectonic shifts more than we were even five years ago. Back then, contributor networks were beginning to get in. And we were sort of at that fundamental stage of people seeing us as experts in youth entrepreneurship. We were getting a lot of inbound because we had curated this group. An aha moment.

Andrew: Okay, this was super smart.

Scott: Super early. Super early too.

Andrew: It was, “I’m going to get all these entrepreneurs. I’ll send them a question. I’ll pull out the best answers. We’ll organize it into this list of answers. And it’ll be from the YEC, which then gives credibility to the YEC and to every single entrepreneur who’s in the list.” And frankly, if you’re there with Tim Sykes and some of the bigger names that you’ve got on the list, it gives the people who are contributing a lot of credibility, and gives it to YEC. Okay, so that’s one of the big things that you gave them. You also created a little bit of a community. The community, from what I remember, was largely on Facebook.

Scott: Early on, when we were originally a forum based group, that’s now expanded into events, and big summits, and, you know, other types of connections. We also do digital [inaudible 00:09:59] that helps you actually meet people based on a challenge you have within the network. There was a lot of iterations since then.

Andrew: But let’s take it one step at a time. It was at the time, “We’re going to get you press, and we’re going to do Facebook groups.”

Scott: Yeah, we’re going to get you connected to people. Right. We’re going to connect you in one group. Everybody’s going to be at a certain level of vetting. So everybody that knows that’s getting in has a certain level of credibility of their business, whether it was funds raised, or revenues that their business currently gets. So you know it’s a safe space as a starting point. And then from there, we curated further.

Andrew: Okay, all right. And then why did your group work? I think it was Ryan, your co-founder, who I kept hearing as the guy who was involved in getting that community on a day to day basis. Am I right?

Scott: So Ryan, my co-founder, who’s still the CEO of The Community Company today and runs all of our communities, he just understands community at a fundamental level that most people don’t. But I think, if you asked him, he would say the same thing as me, where the real aha moment . . . and this is where a lot of these communities die, frankly. We charged. And I hate to say it, but I think by putting the idea that if we’re providing value, value, and by paying for value you have expectations. And by expectations, now it’s a retention game. [inaudible 00:11:11]

Andrew: What did you charge at the beginning?

Scott: A couple hundred dollars. I think it was like $400 or $500 bucks at the beginning, and now it’s . . .

Andrew: A year or a lifetime?

Scott: A year. And now I think it’s a couple thousand for that community. But the idea was very simple. If we deliver the goods, you should be seeing exponential more value than you’re spending. But that put us on our toes to really learn the community from an individualized level . . .

Andrew: So talk to me about what you did to really learn the community.

Scott: Yeah, I mean surveying was crucial. Number one, I think a lot of people . . .

Andrew: Surveying. Tell me why. Because I find that when I survey people, only people who fill out the surveys are the ones who are filling out surveys, and they’re not representative. Who . . . ?

Scott: But here’s the difference though, right? So when we started YEC, the good news was that Ryan and I literally handpicked nearly every single person in the first 400 members or so that we had over the first couple years. So there were such deep relationships. It wasn’t like, “Here’s a general survey on a Google Doc.” We were calling people. We were asking these questions very personally and directly, getting both regular data and contextual data, because we had the relationships. We were asking direct questions as well.

Andrew: Okay, and you were asking them what?

Scott: Like a couple things. Well, common sense things, like, “What are things that [inaudible 00:12:17]

Andrew: What are things that what? Sorry, we lost the connection. You had mic issues today.

Scott: What are things that certain groups you may be in now don’t offer you today that is valuable to you, you wish you did have? What is a waste of your time? What do we do now that sucks? What do we do now that needs to be improved? Can you give us an instance of a value moment we created for you that makes you a lifelong member? Questions along those lines.

Andrew: Okay, and what did they say that they wanted?

Scott: You know, it was a combination of things. Obviously, I think the biggest things were, “I want to save time, meet the right people.” That’s the core, right? Which sounds so easy, yet so complex in what it means. They didn’t want to just connect to connect. That, you know, all these groups just sort of said, “Oh, I want to meet Mike. Let me go meet Mike.” Well, why? Right? They wanted really specific connections, and hopefully to be tailored as if they were personalized, or if they can be personalized. They wanted more events. Wanted the ability to actually have face to face things that weren’t like your Tuesday night happy hour, because that was a waste of their time. It had to be something special, experiential, unforgettable.

Andrew: People are, they’re not saying that to you in a survey or a call, are they? Nobody asks for events, do they?

Scott: Oh, here’s the thing. See, I wish they didn’t sometimes. What people said about events was very, very telling. Now this is obviously going back a few years. So again, it’s a little hazy on the specifics. But when we looked at the original event strategy, I’m the first one to say we failed at events miserably for the first two years of the organization. Just horrible.

Andrew: How? What did you do for events?

Scott: Well, we actually wrote a great LinkedIn post, and I’ll send you the link for your audience as well that went viral a couple of weeks ago about this. But the idea was that we did nothing special. It was just your, “Let’s do a networking event.” And, “Oh, it’s a Tuesday, so let’s just get together.” Like that kind of uselessness, and lack of time efficiency, lack of thought. But then we started building a very specific regimented program. We internally call it the oasis strategy. It’s the idea that you are going to figure out, “Where is it that your people already are, and how can you create collision amongst people that is more valuable than why they’re attending something?”

So for example, everybody goes to South by Southwest, let’s just say, right, at some point. Okay, but there’s also a lot of entrepreneurs in Austin that frankly [inaudible 00:14:35] get to meet entrepreneurs in New York, at least in a curated setting. And so we pick an event that we know there’s going to be a lot of inbound entrepreneurs going to. Then we make all the Austin people also might not be attending South by Southwest. We take something totally outside the conference, nothing to do with that, and build an experience based on the people, knowing that those two groups of people rarely would ever connect. So it’s about finding unique moments. [inaudible 00:14:59]

Andrew: And you were the one who was doing that.

Scott: Yes.

Andrew: You were organizing it. You were inviting those people out. Were you charging for it?

Scott: That’s the other thing. So we have a combination of [inaudible 00:15:09]. One, bigger events to make them experiential, to get that value, absolutely should charge. There’s no question. There are events we do that we don’t, but those have other intentions. Like, we have certain events that we want to bring some people that we think would be great fits for the organization, and we want to give them an opportunity to experience something. So we make that sort of a separate type of event activation. But no one could get a free membership. We don’t allow for what I would call the freebie inaugural members anymore, or nothing like that. And the reason being is that if I’m delivering value to you, you should absolutely want to commit, and invest your time, and expect of me what you paid for.

Andrew: Okay, so I went to one of those events. I was speaking at a conference. And what I noticed you did was you saw that I was speaking at the conference. You invited me to come to the event, and you invited a handful of other people who were speaking. And the event was just for YEC plus the people we thought should meet. And I saw it, and I liked how it was convenient, but it also had this really elegant vibe. You had your own private room. I was watching you, because that’s what I do. Right? And one thing that I was watching to see is, “Is he going to be pissed that people drink too much?” Not too much like because they’re going to get drunk. But is he watching to see if people are drinking too much of his alcohol? Right? Because he’s organizing this.

There was none of that. It was, “Is he a generous person who’s there, or is he someone who’s like watching everyone? Is he bothered by getting together with people, or does he get energy from it? Is he, like, shining?” And what I found was, at that point, you were starting to come into the person that you are today. There was a sense of confidence, “I built this thing that works. I don’t need to show people that I built this thing that works, but I’m proud.” And you were starting to hit your stride with it. All right, so those were the things that you were doing, events, based on . . . you were saying when you talked to people and you said, “What sucks?”, they said, “These events just suck.”

Scott: Suck. Our members were not coy.

Andrew: There’s more of this going on. The community, you guys encourage people to ask for stuff. You guys encourage people. Talk about how you do it.

Scott: Most people have no idea how to ask a good question. And everything, every contact, every resource, anything, begins with good questions. And so again, you asked me before, “Why do I think most communities fail, and why did we succeed?” It all starts and begins, regardless of what platform you use, proprietary, Facebook, doesn’t matter, moderation and forum community management is the most crucial thing. Because some people can say, “Oh, look, I’m moderating this discussion.” But that’s useless, right? You don’t have, necessarily, like the chops of . . . someone asks a question. You have to have an emotionally intelligent forum manager, who not only understands who to bring in but who not to bring in to certain chats, certain conversations, or what to take offline, what to remove as spam or . . .

Andrew: That part I get. But here’s the thing. So I got this hoodie. I fricking love this hoodie. I got it for everyone on my team. Because this guy Zee Ali made this hoodie, right?

Scott: Yep, Zee is in YEC. Yep.

Andrew: You know him, right. So he told me he’s in YEC. And I’m paying attention to this guy, because he’s also not, like, a VS person. He’s calm and, like, enjoying himself, but he’s always doing the math in his head. So he’s not going to be part of YEC just to be part of YEC. So I’m talking to him about why he’s in YEC, and he says, “You know, I sell stuff, merch there.” How do you do it without being spammy? What’s the YEC method? And he told me. I don’t fully remember the answer, and I didn’t fully understand it, because we were just having conversation. You tell me. How do you give a forum for Zee to sell without making it so obnoxious that everybody else says, “Get out of here, Zee. I don’t like you and I don’t like YEC anymore.”

Scott: Yep. Well, first off, we would never let him actually post, or anybody for that matter, in our forum and say, “Look at these great hoodies,” or whatever.

Andrew: It’s more like if someone says, “I need a hoodie,” that he’s allowed to come in and respond.

Scott: Or our members would have enough intelligence, based on how we do our connectivity within a forum thread to bring Zee into that conversation, because it’s the right conversation. It’s not promotional. If someone’s looking for this, they want to trust the person they’re providing the service. That’s fine. You could trust the person you’re getting the service from if they’re part of a greater group, and if we can bring him into that conversation.

What we don’t allow for is people to start spammy or advertorial conversations. So if he said, “Hey, guys, I’m giving everybody a 25% discount today. Hit this link.” Gone, that post would be gone in 30 seconds. The member would be educated as to why it’s not the right way to do this thing. But yet again, if you were to ask Zee or other members of the YEC, because there are a number of folks that provide great services, they find it is a great forum because they can provide value to people. And people will naturally find them based on how we manage the community. So it’s a more thoughtful process.

Andrew: All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor, then I’m going to come back in and ask you more questions about what you did to evolve YEC and to make it into a profitable, successful business. There’s more to it than that. I feel like I’m not really hitting on the key ideas, because I’m not asking the right questions. But I’m going to come back and ask more. I want to know why that community worked, so that we all learn what we could do to make our communities work. All right, the first sponsor is a company, actually it’s an event, called Fireside Conf. Do you know it?

Scott: No, I don’t. Educate me, Andrew.

Andrew: All right, I’m about to. Here’s the thing. A lot of conferences are about sitting in an audience and listening to stuff that you’re better off listening to, frankly, as a podcast or on YouTube while you’re having lunch or something. So these guys at Fireside Conf said, “You know what? Screw all that. Yeah, we need to have some programming where people talk. But let’s make it chill. We’ll do it around a campfire. And if you come, you come. If not, fine. Let’s do it in a campground.” And so one of the guys who organized it said, “I loved going to camp as a kid. I’m going to buy my whole camp or rent it for a weekend, and have a bunch of entrepreneurs come together.” And so he did that.

And at first I thought, “I’m going.” Frankly, because I know them, because they’re Mixergy fans who got a lot out of this stuff. And I want to meet them, and I want to meet other entrepreneurs. But I don’t get it. Then I went, and I got it. You’re just hanging out around a campfire with people, and they’re generous with the campfires. I don’t know how. I guess it’s because it’s in Canada, so you can, I guess, avoid all the . . . I don’t know. What is it? There are all these issues in the U.S. about liability. If somebody touches a fire, you might go to jail, or you have to pay $1 million. I don’t know what it is. But they’re allowed to let you put campfires everywhere. And so when you sit around a campfire and you’re talking to someone, it creates a bond.

When you’re hanging out with someone for a weekend together, and there’s no place for them to escape because you’re on campgrounds, and they’re not going off and having drinks somewhere outside of the event and not including you, you’re all included. You’re all participating. You’re all going swimming. You’re all having a good time. That’s what I experienced. It was so fun. And then I made friends there that I’m still in touch with. One of them I’m super close to, Justin from Needles. He and I communicate by text on a regular basis, because we basically slept together for a weekend. You know, in bunks, but still. Same room, same everything.

All right. Anyone out there who wants to go to a conference where you’re really getting to get to bond with the speakers, and you’re really going to get to have activities and hang out with people, you got to check out Fireside Conf.

You know, I compliment myself when I think I do a great job for sponsors. I don’t think I did a great job explaining Fireside Conf either. I’m just going to tell you guys, go check out this URL, firesideconf.com/mixergy. You’re going to see me having the time of my life jumping into the fricking lake, because you can do that there. You’re going to see me talking, because there are some presentations. But you’re going to see an audience of people who are just enjoying themselves. You’ll get a great price if you go to this URL. And everyone who attends has to apply. They’re going to know you’re a Mixergy listener, and they’re going to give you much better shot at getting accepted than anyone else who just comes off the street. So here’s the URL, firesideconf.com/mixergy. That’s Fireside, Conf as in conference, dot com, slash Mixergy. Not mix energy, people, Mixergy. Mixergy. All right.

So there was this online community. What else did you do to make it more useful for people? I sense that it was the way that you allowed people to ask for and receive help from each other. Talk about what that structure was.

Scott: [inaudible 00:22:54] was important. That they would match an intermediary that could help actually connect people. Because again, like what I said before Andrew, most people suck at asking a question. If you need help, if you [inaudible 00:23:07], most people would ask a question like this in a forum or in an email. They’ll say, “I’m looking to grow my business for help. Please help.”

And it’s like, what the hell does that mean? Are you looking to grow revenue, head count? Are you looking to scale a certain market, a certain geography, a certain product offering? There’s so much nuance. And so by having someone that can probe the ask to actually ascertain what the specific areas of interest and value this person’s looking to extract and be, then all of a sudden you’ve got a question worth asking. That can then lead to a better facilitated connection. And so that was a big part of this. Being thoughtful and actually following through. At scale, by the way.

Andrew: The concierge was about introducing people to each other privately?

Scott: Yes.

Andrew: So I would say, “Look, I need to hire a growth hacker,” back when growth hackers were the thing. You’d say, “I know my network well enough. I can go in and get that person.”

Scott: So that’s another big part of it. When people onboard into our organization, it wasn’t just like, “Oh, you’re joining a Facebook group. Have a good day.” We would have them onboard a lot of data about themselves, their businesses, where they were going to be during the year, what their core business insights were, so we could connect the dots using a lot of our technology and see our end data to be able to figure out who could make the right connection.

And then by allowing for a double opt in by showing people, “These are the kind of folks we recommend. Who would you like introductions to?”, we’ll go and see if they have a mutual interest and connection. It allows us to basically make data driven connections on smarter asks in questions. And that was the key to success.

Andrew: We both know David Spinks, also a long time Mixergy listener who organizes CMX Hub, where he teaches community managers how to manage communities.

Scott: Yep, and my partner’s going to be keynoting his next conference. Ryan’ll be keynoting at his next conference, so there you go.

Andrew: That makes sense. One of the things he said to me was that there’s an issue for community managers where there is no CRM for communities. They hack together spreadsheets to keep track of things like that. They use Salesforce or other, it doesn’t work. What did you guys use to keep track of who was a growth hacker and who was not?

Scott: So we very much, in the early stages, were exactly what you just said. You figure out your own version of the crazy, and you put it together. Now, we built our own proprietary technology and CRM tools. For others, I mean, there are smart ways to use things like spreadsheets or third-party things like Salesforce, but I don’t recommend Salesforce for this. Infusionsoft, something like that. But the key was, at the end of the day, you have to figure out a system that works for you. There is no one size fits all that’s absolutely true, which is why we ended up having to build. [inaudible 00:25:36] right time when that made financial sense for us to do. I think early on, if you have the right spreadsheet system, the right indexing, the right searchability, it’s really just about the data and keeping organized more than anything else.

Andrew: Look at this. I’m looking through my inbox to see what emails I’ve been saving from you guys over the years. I got a bunch. But here’s one that’s interesting, because it’s from me. It’s, “Emerson, do you want to check out YEC?” Emerson is a founder who I interviewed, a phenomenal entrepreneur.

Scott: Emerson Spartz?

Andrew: Yeah. Did he ever join?

Scott: Yes, he did.

Andrew: He did. Right, so it’s like . . .

Scott: He’s been there for years.

Andrew: A few Mixergy interviewees are part of Young Entrepreneurs Council, which helps mentor new entrepreneurs and promote experienced ones. When Ryan asked me who I’d recommend for membership, I suggested he talk to you. I emailed him, and I CCed Ryan, and then Ryan took over the conversation and joined in. And then I see others. It’s Emerson, Kelly, James, Chuck, Steve, all of them want to check out YEC. So you guys were also good at the ballsy request, frankly, to go in and say, “Andrew, can you help?” Actually, I shouldn’t say that’s ballsy. In my head, this stuff is ballsy, but it’s just like a natural part of business. You were good at doing that and asking for that kind of introduction.

Scott: Yeah, referrals are important. Look, at the end of the day, I think going back to the event you talked about earlier, because I remember the exact event, because I remember you used to have the bracelet. You probably still have it.

Andrew: Still there, right there, dude.

Scott: And you were going through it. I remember that like yesterday.

Andrew: It’s on the mic, yes.

Scott: Everywhere Else, I think, was the name of the conference we were at too.

Andrew: Right. Good memory.

Scott: Because I do what I do. Right, Andrew? But at a high level, I think the thing going back to that event that really spoke to the same thing as what you were just looking at in your emails is, when you said, “How do I host an event personally?” If you don’t get it, you’re not going to. So what am I, the owner-founder going to say that’s going to make you believe or not believe any more than the experience you’re in? And so we believe that people are the best advocates. And when it’s a natural environment, or a natural ask, or a natural experience, it’s a much higher likelihood of conversion or success in selling a membership.

But I never liked the greasy sales tactics of, “Okay, everybody, you’re at my event. Now let me give you the 35 minute presentation of why this is that.” Or, “Let me send you an email out of the cold and randomly say, ‘Hey, can I take you through this PowerPoint presentation of why our program’s so amazing'” I’d rather have people that trust what we’ve built, trust the mission, the vision, the experience, the benefits, speak for us.

And again, just like I said earlier, that charging was the number one change in our business that actually made sense, rather than sponsorships or conference tickets as the only driver. The other thing that was a big driver of this was being very clear with members, “You are our lifeblood.” The value proposition is [inaudible 00:28:19]. You are the best lens of who should be in the community. Therefore, why wouldn’t I [inaudible 00:28:23] you’re enjoying or seeing value, for you to help us find more amazing people. And that was another key thing, not being shy about being able to ask for that specific referral.

Andrew: Yeah, you know what? I notice a lot of groups are good at that, and they’re not shy about it. But also, there’s no pressure. I don’t know what it is. Because I got a lot going on. What do I need to go and help you for?

Scott:Yeah.

Andrew:But there’s something about you guys that . . . I don’t know. I guess it’s that you ask your good people. The other people who did that really well was Summit Series. I remember getting an email from Jamie Siminoff about Summit Series. And at the time, I also said, “Nah, I’m not going to events. What’s the point of going to the event?”

And it ended up being really good, because people like Jamie Siminoff were not just part of it, but then recruiting their friends. That’s a really key takeaway, actually, that you guys were good at that. You weren’t obnoxious about it, but you were consistently telling us, “This community is about the good people who are in it. If you know any good people who should be in it, please ask them to come in.”

All right. Here’s something else that I see in an older email. Q&A, what’s this whole Q&A thing that you guys did? We could type in questions and get answers, but also there was a video thing. Talk about what that was.

Scott: Yeah, so this goes back to what you were saying earlier about media. Early on, we realized that there was this major changeover where the idea of having experts rather than just journalists was starting to be interesting to especially the business media. And, you know, I know, case and point, guys like you have no time. You’re not going to necessarily want to go write an 800 to 1,000 word essay espousing whatever your views are, right?

But if there’s value where you [inaudible 00:29:55] five sentences, you know, whether it’s via text, whether it’s on your computer or your mobile device, whatever the case may be. And then you get credited for it, again, in a major media outlet, that’s a value add position. That was our Q&A, was the idea that if I’m going to send you this, you know, you’re going to spend 10 minutes. And my value proposition to you is if you spend that 10 minutes, there’s a high likelihood you’re going to get a massive amplification and more visibility than any other 10 minutes.

Andrew: Oh, that’s a post that I talked about before. But there was more than that. I remember seeing the founder of Teachable, Ankur, on video taking questions from other YEC members. It was that kind of a thing too. What was that?

Scott: Yeah. So we used to do live webinars where, again, we would do sharing by having a single member on for 45 minutes, an hour, where they would give like a 30 minute intensive on something specific followed by 30 minutes of direct Q&A with our population. This is a good example, by the way, of something that we killed. You know, to be quite frank. And the reason we killed it is not because we don’t think members saw the value. But we thought we could deliver the value in a better format that was more time valuable of both the members and the speaker.

Andrew: What was the better format?

Scott: Right now, podcasts are a much better format, frankly. People do like listening versus seeing on video, in our experience.

Andrew: So what’s your take on podcasting?

Scott: I’m a huge believer in it. I think especially for . . .

Andrew: No, but how do you guys do it to replace this whole webinar thing that we talked about?

Scott: So basically, we ask questions ahead of time of certain members. We figure out what’s actual topics that were relevant to them. I think the mistake we made early on was assuming, “Oh, we have a member who’s an expert in this topic. Let’s have him talk about it.” But if that only affected 2% of the population, it’s not a value proposition that it’s enough. So our internal logic is now, “We have to believe that anything we do, whether it’s this program or anything else, must be able to impact between 10% to 20% of any population we work with.”

Because if it doesn’t, then what is the point? Right? It’s too niche for our specific goals. It doesn’t mean [inaudible 00:31:57]. It just means that we need a metric to tie that KPI to. And so that’s what we started, getting better sense of what the members wanted, and then making more digestible formats. In this case, podcasts being one, that can help us to facilitate that information exchange.

Andrew: What’s the next big thing that you offered members. Actually, you know what? I know one thing that I want to ask you about. At the Everywhere Else conference, you and I were talking privately. And you said, “Look, health insurance for entrepreneurs is a big issue,” which it is. I’ve always paid for my own health insurance, and then I married Olivia. And because she works in corporate, she has corporate jobs, I get to see the health insurance through their eyes. Not only, first of all, they get a lower price than I get. They also get an internal fricking advocate for them. And then if the advocate can’t get something out of the insurance company, they’ll often find another way around it to give it to them. I go, “I didn’t even know this was possible.”

The other thing that I learned is venture capitalists don’t even often have health insurance. They self-insure and then they just pay for every-fricking-thing. So I didn’t realize that there were all these other options. I would have been steamed if I did, as an entrepreneur, know that this existed, and what I got, and what I paid in return was so much lower. But you saw that and you said, “I think I have a way to solve it.” Talk about what your way was, and then catch me up on what happened with that.

Scott: Well, this is another great learning lesson. And again, whenever I come on this show, Andrew, I always tell you I’ll never be coy about, you know, giving you some flashy headline. I’ll always be truthful. That was one of the biggest fails in our community’s history.

Andrew: Yeah, why?

Scott: Because it’s just a very complex market. It’s dynamic. It’s run by politicians in terms of regulatory environment.

Andrew: But you couldn’t just go and . . . ? You were partnering up with someone. No.

Scott: Yeah. We were basically trying to partner directly with certain specific health providers. But because of the complexities, even in that, and the fact that you can’t talk about selling it, you can’t offer anything exclusive in certain instances because now the associations which we would technically fall under legally are not allowed to offer carve-out insurance. There was just a number of problems from a regulatory perspective that changed fundamentally with Obamacare and other things.

And now, who knows what happens again in a few months that Trumpcare, so to speak, is now being talked about in terms of replacing parts of Obamacare. So I think the idealism in us said, “Wow, this is clearly a need.” But I think what the mistake was is we tried to play expert rather than what we were good at, which is curated providers. We bring the best of the best into the fold. We don’t try to play a material role in who already is best of the best.

Andrew: With discounts?

Scott: Right. Deals, discounts, all that kind of stuff in that world. We were just like, “You know what? That’s not for us.” What is for us, most importantly, is figuring out, “Who is the player in each of the core verticals?” Whether it’s, again, insurance, whether it is payroll, whatever it is. How do we bring the best integration of that benefit into the community? Rather than playing a material role, we just do all the vetting and figure out the best members-only version of what we can do there, and that’s it. It’s the same thing with what . . .

Andrew: Like what? Give me an example.

Scott: For example, we have a great partnership with Priceline and Hotel Engine for hotels. Right? Where we do very specific integrations around various members-only discounts and interfaces with those companies. Same thing goes for, say, our insurance, which goes through a company called PEO Spectrum that handles all PEOs. So you’re not just dealing with TriNet, but you’re dealing with every company. And they’re finding the exact one that makes sense for your use case. So we’re now really about finding the specific thing, not 50, the one, that in our worldview helps the largest and greatest . . .

Andrew: And do they pay you?

Scott: No, not in terms of the marketing or sponsorship fee, or anything of the like. If there is a successful purchase by the organization, in certain instances we may get a kickback affiliate fee, which we do let members know is part of this.

Andrew: Like what? What’s something that you get a kickback for?

Scott: I mean, if we’re selling something like I get a hotel room, we’re probably getting, you know, 1% or something like that. But we’re not telling you, “Take this hotel.” And that’s kind of the key too. Same thing with, like, one of the PEO companies. If I was working with, let’s say, one company, then that would be sort of in my worldview not the best thing for a community. Because you’re basically saying, “Use just this one company, regardless of if it’s a good fit or not, because I have a great payment model.” But if I’m partnering with companies that are great about customer experience and have many options, then I’m not sort of controlling the point of purchase. I’m simply controlling the value of giving you the best members-only rates.

Andrew: Okay, there’s something about what you did there, though, that I was impressed by. And there’s a takeaway that I want to come back to in a moment. And then I want to know, what did you learn from building this community that you brought now into The Community Company? But first, I got to tell everyone that my second sponsor is a company that I’ve hired multiple people from. It’s called Toptal. Let me ask you this. What hiring advice do you have, as a guy who’s not a developer, for someone who might be hiring a developer?

Scott: Find the guy who talks you tech nerd-dom, and have him make sure you’re not getting used like a used car salesman. Yeah. I couldn’t tell the difference. Like my chief architect, which I didn’t even know was a thing back in the day. Now he’s saying, “Well, we need somebody with this, this, and this skill.” He might as well be speaking Swahili to me. So I needed someone that I trusted to put the lens on that could tell me the truth of how to qualify a candidate, and then basically assist me in that process.

Andrew: You know, great advice there. Two ways to do that with Toptal. Number one, if you guys are out there listening to me . . . first of all, no matter who you hire from, that is great advice. And I’ve noticed that YEC companies, when I have dinner with them, they talk like this. They’ll say, “Hey, will you please help me interview this person? Will you help me put together our process?” And they do that all the time. And if you have someone, you’re welcome to bring that to Toptal and have that person have a conversation with Toptal when you’re hiring a developer.

But also, one of the things that Toptal will start off every client conversation with is someone who can be that intermediary. They call them a matcher because that person will listen to you, Scott, if you’re going to hire from . . . I should say, top, as in the top of your head, tal as in talent. If you were going to hire a developer from Toptal, you’d talk to a matcher. And you’d say, “Look, here’s how we work. We have about 100 people. We work . . . ” What do you guys use, Slack to talk internally?

Scott: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Andrew: All diverse, or are some people in your office . . . I see them walking over your shoulder. Is it both?

Scott: Yeah, both.

Andrew: And so do you have regular meetings?

Scott: Oh, yeah. Standups, all kinds of things. Yeah.

Andrew: Every day?

Scott: Depending on team, yeah.

Andrew: So there you go. You say all this, “Look, I need a person who can work remotely. Also, I need them to show up every single day at this specific time. Here’s the way that we work. Here are the languages.” And they’ll coach questions out of you that’ll help you refine the position. Then they’ll go and do interviews on your behalf, and bring you just the top. Often, I found it’s two or three are enough. You, and if you have someone on your team or a friend who can come in and help, can do an interview with them. And if you’re happy with the person, you can often get started within a day or two.

Anyone out there who wants to go check out Toptal, don’t go to toptal.com like everyone else. One of the benefits of being part of the Mixergy community is that these guys who created Toptal, before they raised money from Andreessen Horowitz, before they became the big muckity-mucks of the software space here in San Francisco and frankly all over the world, they were Mixergy listeners. And so they’re giving Mixergy listeners like you, Scott, like everyone else who’s listening to me, 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when they pay for their first 80 hours, in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks. Guys, I talked a little fast through this. Check out the details at toptal.com/mixergy, toptal.com/mixergy. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring. I’ve been getting a lot of email that I take too long with my ads, so I’m going fast.

Here’s the thing that I liked about you, though, in that conversation. You were thinking big. You weren’t thinking, “Look, here’s how I can ask another question of my community, add another feature to my site.” You were thinking, “There’s this big, national problem with health insurance. I’m going to go and step into that ring.” Because even if you failed that conversation, you get, first of all, credit for trying to do something. And second, a ton of credibility. What else did you think big about like that that led to bigger success than that?

Scott: Yeah, I think it was the biggest moments for us was really two specific things. Number one was realizing we didn’t want to mess up YEC. But we believed that this community, this membership driving model we had, had other verticals or value propositions we could deliver in other markets. And Ryan and myself didn’t want to mess up a current community like most associations that are, you know, thinking about money. Dude, you’re either going to charge more or you’re going to bring in more people. Right? So those are the only two ways to drive meaningful revenue. We said, “Well, what if we can verticalize it and take the engine out of this and put it into other things?” That was the big thing.

And the second biggest learning we had in our particular business was realizing, very frankly, we didn’t want to build another brand from start to finish. Because the brand, the thing that makes you feel good about this, that makes you realize you’re part of something bigger, that takes a lot of time, money, and effort in a way that is just very unhealthy. And we didn’t want to be a one trick wonder. And so that’s when we said, “How can we get this engine we’ve built, which is massive system, scalable, [inaudible 00:40:52] on customer service, great benefits program, smart technology? But what paint? What value proposition do we put on the front end?”

And that’s when we realized, “You know what? Media companies, which really gave us our first foray with the Q&A tool, these brands have massive loyalty and affinity. But none of them really understand community at the level we did at the time. What if we could partner with these media brands to then use this model to look at their entire, you know, portfolio of prospects, interested customers, affinity groups, and so forth, and bring them in house?” Which, historically, had not been done.

Andrew: Was Forbes one of the first clients?

Scott:Yes.

Andrew:Or the first?

Scott: The first.

Andrew: The first, yeah. You had a really good relationship with Forbes. So you went to them and you said, “Look, we build communities. We’ll build a community for you”?

Scott:Yes.

Andrew:What was the payment process? They were going to pay you to manage it?

Scott: So I can’t speak about what the actual deal terms are of any of our deals, because we’re a private company.

Andrew: Let’s talk in general. When you were starting out, what was it?

Scott: In general, it’s a partnership. Initially, these are partnerships, right? These guys obviously have an incredible amount of value in the fact that they have a great channel destination. They have an amazing global brand. We have means by which we can create community. Membership driven revenue, not advertising revenue. And something that is a real business unit that is self-contained by us. Because a lot of media companies, especially, are constrained with what their resources are internally. So it’s as much them realizing that this was a money opportunity as much as it was also realizing this is a natural brand extension with no overhead and heavy lifting. And so that is really a big deal when you’re looking at that one.

Andrew: But what do they give you? Do they give you a list of their clients so you can reach out to their clients? No?

Scott: No. The structure of how we look at community building is . . . and you know, we’re talking a lot about the idea of a framework, right? There’s a brand, or a company, or even your association, for those folks that are listening out there. What does this mean to people, and who are those people? It’s literally first identifying, “How many verticals of value are there underneath a certain brand?” So in case of Forbes, there’s a lot. You have chief executives. You have technology executives. You have, you know, lawyers, and professional services, and so on, and so on, and so on. So it’s first identifying who those groups would be. Right now [inaudible 00:42:52] 15 total groups under the Forbes management. So it’s all verticalized by a specific group.

Andrew: Like what? Give me a group example.

Scott: Yeah, so like the Forbes Technology Council, right? So this is a group of CIOs, CTOs, senior level technology executives. And the idea basically is, “How do we create a community experience around those folks? How do we hand select those folks?” Because we didn’t talk about this earlier. But a big thing that in addition to having people pay, to know that this was a commitment, was also the idea that knowing there was a vetting process, background checks, revenue or funding checks, insuring your business is actually of a certain size and caliber, in certain geographies in some cases.

So we also [inaudible 00:43:32] framework are helping the end user realize that by being part of this, they’re part of something that everyone in this has the same experience getting in, has made the same financial commitment, and is on the level with who those companies are. So it allows us to naturally identify who we think, as curators, would be a fit. And through a variety of different ways, similar to what we’ve done with YEC, referral business, bringing in certain thought leaders that we believe are value creators at the beginning, to build these communities one by one. And that’s exactly what we did.

Andrew: So you helped them. You get influencers, I guess, is one way to call them, to come in and be a part of the Council. You then ask for referrals. You sell from the beginning. But they don’t even give you their list of customers. They don’t give you their email list.

Scott: No, we would never ask for data of a client’s.

Andrew: Why not? I would think if you partnered up with us, you created something for Mixergy, I would want you to have my email list so you could go and start off with that.

Scott: Well, media companies are a little bit different than a personal brand or global brand. So I’ll put them in two buckets. Media companies have a lot of other things that come with their user base. Plus a lot of media companies . . . I’m not speaking to any one company I’ve worked with or not worked with specifically. But up until just a couple years ago, most media brands were not sophisticated when it came to client segmentation. You know, they had subscribers, right, or something of the like. And so the data in the way they might view their worldview, their business as it exists, is not the same sort of segmentation that my needs are. Because I’m not a general solicitation product, right? [inaudible 00:44:57] isn’t going to anyone who’s a hobbyist, but they might like business. I’m going for the upper echelon of every single industry. [inaudible 00:45:04]

Andrew: You know what? Hang on. The connection’s doing this freaky thing. Let’s give it a moment to try to catch up here. Okay, there.

Scott: Sure.

Andrew: You were saying that they think about their communities differently. They think about their lists differently than people do.

Scott: Yeah, client data and segmentation are just very, very different because their products are very [inaudible 00:45:26], right? I mean, they’re selling either magazines, or online advertisements, and so forth. And so that kind of data is not necessarily the same kind of data that I’m looking for. We don’t use, like, spray and pray. You know, the kind of thing where you’re emailing 10 million people and whatnot. We’re individually selecting who we want to reach out to very, very methodically, based on a rigorous series of protocols.

Andrew: So how many people might be a part of a community that you guys lead?

Scott: Oh, man. I mean, some of our communities are as small as 100 and some of them are 1,000 to 2,000.

Andrew: And all the stuff that we talked about earlier to encourage conversation, now it happens on your software, not on Facebook groups, right?

Scott: It’s a combination. Some people love Facebook as a product. We’re actually going to be bringing all of this finally in house, no matter what it is, by the fall, just to make everything consistent across the whole portfolio into a mobile format. But in essence, we believe that you build the community where the community is and wants to be. You don’t move it. Changing people’s traffic or daily use patterns is not an easy thing. I call it the Oprah effect. Right? Oprah was on TV, number one daytime TV show for 20 plus years, multi-billionaire. All of a sudden she wants her own network, and what happens?

The assumption was wrong that you could change someone’s viewing habits. Because they took one hour of their day, and now to give you 24 hours of their day on a brand new network, it didn’t work. [inaudible 00:46:46] change. But that was the investment to get there. We believe that you build a community around the community’s preferences. And only when you move them to new things it’s because you’ve proven that the value prop is stronger and the time commitment is no different. If anything, it’s more efficient and smarter for your everyday life.

Andrew: Let me see if I’m taking this stuff away, the key takeaways here. First of all, congratulations on building this. I’m here to hear your story. But I also, from a selfish point of view, for myself and for my audience, want to make sure that we take away enough that’s useful here. Look, you say start off with inviting people personally. Ask for referrals for more invitations. It’s enough to just have a place for people to talk if the conversation that you have online is a guided enough conversation. Keep checking in with people one on one. Surveys are good. And I always put them down, but you’re saying it’s helpful.

What’s more helpful, it seems like, is having Ryan check in with people, having you talk with people on a regular basis and say, “What sucks about this? What do you wish was different?” That kind of thing. You know what? I really like the idea of piggybacking off of bigger events. People are going to these big events anyway. You might as well give them something that’s a little more exclusive. What else? Give me one more big takeaway for how to lead a community once you get them in there.

Scott: Yeah, I think this is the one that everybody always gets mad that I say, because you think that, you know . . . again, this goes back to where we started this conversation of the sort of what I’ll call the [inaudible 00:48:05] TechCrunch-style headline businesses that have no meat and potatoes but somehow get all the press. Not everything in a community, especially in the early stages, should be built to scale. These are people. I think the most important thing I can take away from my business is as much as there are smart systems and amazing employees on my side, non-scaled stuff is what got us to the point we could do it.

If we tried day one to hack a scale methodology to a forum management, to the way we communicate with customers, and forgot basically they were people with basically needs and challenges, we would have fundamentally missed the whole point. And that’s why I think a lot of these things fail, because people don’t assume. They think of it as not variables, just as, “Those are my community.” Community means a lot of things. There could be a million people in a community, but there’s a million different versions of what that community is to the people in it. So I think learning the fine detail to then build your systems off of, I think, is the crucial component. You can only do that with real time, real energy, and real investment.

Andrew: How’d you meet Ryan, your co-founder?

Scott: We had a mutual friend that introduced us. Ryan came from the background of building a company at the time called Employee Evolution that became Brazen Careerist. And I was starting to build YEC. Ryan was looking for his next thing after their previous company took a pivot and went to more of a software as a service than the original . . .

Andrew: I’m looking at his LinkedIn profile. Like, if you signed up, you’d get discounts on hotels, on cars, on office supplies, that kind of thing, which is now part of YEC. Is that what he was doing?

Scott: No. He was basically building an actual community of professionally minded millennials. At the time, there were 20,000 or 30,000 in that community. And the whole thing was is that, you know, he basically was looking for his next thing because they really went all SaaSified. And we were connected through a mutual friend, because Ryan had, obviously, core background on what I was doing.

Andrew: Right. But he was part of, it was called, Brazen Careerist, wasn’t it?

Scott:Yes.

Andrew:And now it’s called brazen.com, right? Got it. I didn’t even know he was a co-founder of that company.

Scott: Yep.

Andrew: All right. I think I’ve got everything. The only thing that I did not do, and I probably should have done right at the top, but I think it’s a great way to end, is to tell people that if they like you and your style of connecting with people, and they want to learn how to do this too, you and Ryan co-authored a book called “Superconnector.” Impressive that you got Keith Ferrazi to do the foreword for the book, considering that he is, like, a superconnector in so many ways.

Scott: The godfather.

Andrew: The godfather. The book, of course, is available. Do I even need to say where the book is available? It’s available wherever books are sold. It’s “Superconnector” is the book. The company is . . . what is it? I should actually have this up on my screen. I’ve got so many tabs about you. Community.co is the URL, The Community Company. Congratulations on doing so well. Really, I have to tell you, super, super impressive how well you’ve built this up. And the thing is, you don’t even need me to do it.

Oh, here’s the other thing that I like about you. We actually put you through a very rigorous process that was, now that I’ve gotten to know you, was undeserved. Like, proved to us that you’re worthy of being on Mixergy, do a pre-interview. You booked an interview with me last week, and my wife needed us to go to Europe, right? We needed a little family getaway. We said last minute, “Can you please reschedule?” It was never like Scott being a pain in the ass, “I’m above all this.”

Which, frankly, I get. I ask people to do interviews now. If there’s like a day that it takes them to respond to me, I go, “Oh, do they not like me? Who are they not to like me? What are these assholes? What are they?” Right? And you didn’t go through any of it. It’s like, “I’m really good at press. I get huge press. I understand, Andrew, and you’re still a really good person to work with.” I appreciate that.

Scott: No worries. You know what it is, Andrew? One thing that gave me perspective in my life, I now have four kids. Seven, five, three and one. You get to really realize when you become more of a person than a business person. I think that’s the problem with business people when they’re entrepreneurs first [inaudible 00:51:58]. There is nothing more important to me than those four kids and my wife. It amazingly makes everything else so much pettier and easier to say yes or no to.

Andrew: You know what? I’m going to say yes to that, but I’m also going to say having money reduces a lot of that. Don’t you think that you’re profitable, you’re successful?

Scott: Yeah. Certainly the case. But to your point, I’ve met a lot of people who make a lot of money that actually are still pricks.

Andrew: Right, and super insecure. Okay, totally right. You’re 100% right. All right, guys. Go check out, frankly, go check out community.co, or better yet, go check out the book “Superconnector.” I’m glad that you’re on here, Scott. And for anyone who thinks that I’m a big jerk, before the interview started, I said, “Look, I want to be open with you. Are you going to crumble if I’m open in myself and maybe it comes across as a jerky way to do it?” And I liked your answer. You said, “Andrew, I trust you to not make it into, like, a . . . ” I forget how you said it, but it was good. You were basically giving me room to do it, but you said, “Dude, don’t be a real dick here.” I appreciate that.

Guys, go check out my two sponsors, firesideconf.com/mixergy. I promise you guys are going to love that. And I’ve hired great people from Toptal. Go check them out at toptal.com/mixergy. All right, the interview’s over. The fast talking New Yorker’s gone. Scott, thanks for doing this.


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

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