A conversation with Deron Triff of WaitWhat and TED

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I want to understand about the business of content creation so invited Deron Triff. Deron  is co-producer of the Masters of Scale podcast. And prior to that, he was on the executive team at TED. He is THE person to talk on this subject.

Today Deron is co-founder WaitWhat, a New York based media invention company that creates and owns premium content. I’ll ask him about that too.

Deron Triff

Deron Triff


Deron Triff is the co-founder WaitWhat, a New York based media invention company that creates and owns premium content.


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 for an audience of entrepreneurs who are building their businesses often while listening to this podcast. And when I started doing my podcasts, there were hardly any other podcasts out there.

Definitely not a lot of business based podcast. The whole thing was just kind of weird. But my audience figured it out. We like tech. We like things that are a little bit weird and we got into it. And then I started to watch other podcast pop-up and when my understanding of the tech space and the podcast space changed is when Reed Hoffman, the freaking entrepreneur who created LinkedIn decides what is.

Create a podcast. It was called masters of scale, highly polished, highly produced with his, like his energy, his wisdom has, he almost has this professorial, uh, point of view and attitude. He did it. I go, whoa, this is like a game changer for the podcast space. And you started to interview people. In fact, for my book, stop asking questions.

I went back and I looked at some of his interviews, including the one that he did with Richard Branson. And of course he’s got big reach. Killer. Most of you have listened to it or at least sampled it or considered it. Um, what you may not know is what, I didn’t know, there’s a whole business behind it. And so I invited the founder of the business.

The company is called, wait, what? His name is Darren Triff. I invited him on to talk about how he got to create a podcast with Reid hall. How he built that up into more than just a single podcast. And the thing that I am like shocked and amazed by is this course that they created, they created a course platform called masters of scale courses was actually created by my previous sponsor top towel.

I’m fascinated by that and how well it’s doing. And I want to understand about the business of content creation as like an educational business. Through this interview with Darren and we could do a thanks to my sponsors. The first, if you’re in the content space at all, you should know about SEM rush, and I’ll tell you later why you need to have them and why they’re so upset with me.

And the second is. truthfully. And the second, if you’re, if you’re paying people, especially if you’re getting started in 20 21, 20, 22 properly, you need to know

about Gusto and I’ll tell you later how you can get them for free, but first darn good to have you.

You don’t know me well, so it’s going to feel awkward for me to ask you this, but what’s your revenue? How much money are you guys producing top line?

Deron: That’s your first

Andrew: That’s my first question.

Deron: you supposed to warm me up a bit?

Andrew: I don’t think so. I think like, as a business person, I’m hoping that you like it.

Deron: We are, well, look, we are, we are, you know, creating masters of scale and doing a startup at the same time as a bit of a medic experience. Like every everything we’ve learned on on Monday, we wish we had known on the Friday before. And, um, we are. We are doing well and we have multiple podcasts. That’s the skill of being one meditative story, spark and fire.

Um, and I can share with you that we are, we have doubled revenue every year since we started the company in 2017. And, um, and we are looking forward to a great 20, 22.

Andrew: Are we talking about single millions more than 10 million? Can you just give me a ballpark? I’m going to get a sense of how big the bread box is not to go to your accounting.

Deron: I can, I cannot share that with

Andrew: You

can’t even share that.

Deron: I can not share that.

with you. I would, I would lose, I would lose my job even as the founder

Andrew: Okay. Um, is, is the business at all bankrolled by Reid Hoffman?

Deron: read. So, no, we, um, when, so June Cohen and I started wait, what? In 2017. And we built and led the media organization inside of. From the earliest days of launching Ted talks and we’d launched, uh, we we’d left head in 2017. Uh, we, um, invested our own capital to get, wait, what started and did a very small seed round.

Uh, Reed was not involved in that round and in subsequent rounds. Um, we did come in and support. He’s not, he’s not one of the larger investors. He’s a smaller investor, but yes, he is, uh, is a supporter.

Andrew: Can you give me a sense of downloads maybe for his podcast? Is there anything that you can give me to give me a sense of how big the business is so far?

Deron: Yeah.

I’m happy to tell you about, uh, downloads, um, for the podcast. So, um, massive scale had a record month. Last month, it was downloaded, uh, just shy of two and a half million times. It has, uh, an 85% listened through rate it’s listened to in about 150 countries. And I think what’s most important is when you look at the.

The, the sort of the listenership of massive scale. It’s super interesting. And it tells us a lot about how people are using it. So to give you a sense, almost 60% of the audience identifies as founders. Entrepreneurs are C-suite executives. Um, 32 are C-suite executive 32% of C-suite executives at major companies.

Um, 75% or between 18 and 50. Um, and, uh, uh, almost 90% are college graduates. And so it’s a, um, it’s a very hard to reach sophisticated, passionate audience about entrepreneurship, and, and company building.

Andrew: And entrepreneurship, which is a word that I love that he includes that there are people who are basically acting like entrepreneurs inside of organizations. Uh, I think Google is the, is the company that’s most well-known for doing that, but there are others and I can see that he’s speaking to them. All right.

Let me understand how you got this started. Was your idea when you got started to create a podcasting network or was it to do more of an educational.

Deron: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think that the roots for white, what, um, there’s a lot of DNA from Ted in. Wait, what, uh, which is that we believe, you know, first person narratives are vehicles for putting important ideas out into the world. And if you look across. Each of our properties, they are centered on, uh, of course storytelling, uh, from someone who has a master teacher and every episode that we create, uh, from masters of scale to the other, uh, podcasts are rooted in a key idea.

And the way that we describe wait, what is that? We are creating content that’s at the intersection of. And human potential. And so our mission is to, is to elevate human potential, to help people, um, play at the top of their game.

Andrew: Got it. And that was the original idea. And then did you approach was Reid Hoffman’s podcast? The first one that you did.

Deron: That’s right. So, uh, June, uh, notice, read from Ted, uh, if, of course, you know, we didn’t, we didn’t, we didn’t leave Ted with equity, but we left with a lot of social equity and that’s enabled us to, um, you know, to build some of these, uh, early, you know, build relationships early and yes. Um, you know, re as you said, You know, is it a read, read, wanting to be a philosopher?

Like when Reed was in school, he wanted to be a philosopher. He’s very much a public intellectual. He is deeply generous and sees himself on, you know, as, um, someone that, um, has a deep sense of purpose and helping other entrepreneurs along the journey and masters of scale was it was a platform for him to do that.

And it’s become, it’s become one of his most important, um,

Andrew: I guess it’s the two of you that helped create the Ted radio hour on NPR, right? To take the content from Ted you and June Cohen, your co-founder repackaged it, put it on NPR. He got to see what you were able to do. There, you start a new company and you said you see our production shops, you see our level of quality.

We think you should have a podcast too. Is that the conversation I’m looking at your eyes to get a sense of whether I’m in the right

Deron: Not really. So, so now, so we. We, we almost, we never ask people to do things for us. We ask people to do what they already want to do and read has, um, read has through his many books. And, um, his public speaking patients read has always wanted to, um, share his, his, his hard earned body of knowledge. And so that was really the conversation that we approached read, and we felt like.

We could build a successful platform for him that really represented that brought his, his ideas together, his wisdom together, and really, um, Um, harnessed has relationships in a deeply authentic way. And we also shared I’ll share this with the enter, which is, you know, when we initially launched, wait, what we launch it as a media invention company.

And we shared with Reed that we wanted to create a format that’s never existed before and read is, um, is an inventor at heart. And I think what captured his interest was, uh, creating a format that had not? existed.

Andrew: And what was that format? My, my understanding of the masters of scale format is that it’s him narrating a story told by an entrepreneurial. That he I’m assuming recorded the interview with, and then him making sure that you understand the points that matter to him and should matter to the listener,

Deron: Yeah, yes, yes. To, to what you just shared, but.

it, it starts, it starts with a theory and outscale that read wishes? And we have an instinct with each founder, what we’re trying to prove. Right. And that is, you know, you’ll hear that in, in and reads, I believe statements. Right. So, you know, An example would be one of the first episodes is, is, you know, features, uh, Brian Chesky, uh, one of the co-founders at Airbnb and his belief that in order to skill first, you have to do things that don’t scale the whole handcrafted idea.

And so Reed believe that too. And the best founder to bring on to prove that idea was Brian and the, yeah, go ahead.

Andrew: No, no I’m saying, okay, I get it. So it’s him saying, I have this understanding of this belief of what it takes to scale. Here’s someone who can help exemplify it. He reaches out to them and then brings them on. And I think he was one of the original investors of Airbnb. We keep talking about him or I do at least as the founder of LinkedIn, but in addition to that, An amazing investor.

He invested, uh, in Airbnb, he invested in a flicker and, uh, so many other companies. Okay. So can you tell me more about how you, how you partnered up? Because he’s someone who could have just recorded on his own. He could have produced, you could have gotten a producer, you could have worked with anyone.

Deron: Yeah, that for sure. I mean, I think that it really, um, it’s really rooted in his relationship with June, uh, and his belief in, um, her creativity and her ability to create something that was exceptional. There’s, you know, Even when we launched this four years ago, there was probably a million podcasts out there.

Um, and he wanted to do something that was exceptional that had, um, he didn’t know. And we did. It’s really funny. He, he shares the story and you might’ve heard him say this, Andrew, that, um, he knew we were going to do something great, but when he listened to the first episode, He had no idea What we were actually building.

Like it was a complete revelation. So the music, the code opens the way that we used humor, the way that we, we, we built the, we designed the belief, I believe, statement and thread that throughout the episode, the surprise cameo guests, this was all when he heard it for the first time, um, completely unexpected, but he believed in.

And the creative potential and he believed in our commitment to excellence and he believes in our deep sense of purpose and that, that’s what he makes us decisions based on relationships and people he believes in. And that’s, I think that’s what he, that’s what drove the decision.

Andrew: What about promotion? What do you do

to get people to notice it and to download? Obviously, his name helps, but.

Deron: Yeah. It’s um, that has changed quite a bit. Um, you know, in. You know, in the, in 2017, when we launched the series, the most important thing you could do would be to get apple to featured in the carousel. And when That would happen, you would just see yourself chart immediately. Right. And it could be, it could, it could generate 30 to 40% of your audience.

That same tactic today almost doesn’t move the needle at all. Like. On almost nothing. And so, you know, we’ve really, um, you know, we were early enough to be able to build that base audience. A lot of our growth now is word of mouth, um, entrepreneurs sharing it with other entrepreneurs. There is some there’s minimal paid media, put against it a few thousand dollars each year.

And then there’s a lot of, um, cross promotional relationships that we do.

Andrew: That seems like a big one today. Let me come back to cross promotional, but go back to the carousel. Since that was the beginning. My understanding was that you had a relationship with someone at apple and many podcasters did. And then you could reach out to them and say, we’ve got this special episode, or we’ve got an episode we think your audience will care about, or we’re making this progress.

And they would then feature. Is that right?

Deron: That’s right?

Yeah. We, um, coming out of Ted, we built relationships with, with, of course, all of this. Uh, platforms and, you know, you still have to make the case that, uh, you’re producing something that’s, um, of great editorial quality and, and, and worthiness. Um, but yes, those, those relationships certainly helped in, of course those teams have all turned over.

So you’re constantly cultivating relationships with a ever-widening group of platforms. And that’s, that’s also an important piece of it. Apple, apple was 90% of the audience and the first season. It’s 60% now. And so it’s really about cultivating relationships with all the different platforms.

Andrew: Can you go deeper with that? When you say cultivating relationships, how do you do.

Deron: Um, it’s really based on, on having a team that is committed to deeply listening to the editorial teams at the different platforms, what they’re focusing on each month and two. To create very high quality pitches that capture their interests. Um, and that’s really it. I mean, they, they they’re, you know, how they make decisions is not, you know, it’s unknown to us and there’s now 20,000 new podcasts launching every week, 20,000 every week.

And so it’s harder and harder to get their attention.

Andrew: When you say high quality pitches, can you be a little more specific there? Just help us visualize what you’re talking about.

Deron: Yeah. So currently there’s a, you know, the different, um, platforms have submission forms and you would take a lot of time. And, and, um, and describing the episode, the audience that it can reach what the idea is, this is the way we do it. I don’t know the way, the way other people do it. We create exceptional artwork.

We create that ahead before they commit to the promotion. We create artwork that sort of demonstrates we carefully choose which episodes we’re going to ask them to promote. We pick ones that are, of course of recognized people. We don’t go every single week asking for support. We choose wisely. Those, those basic kinds of things.

Andrew: And when you say that you craft those images, it’s because the way it works is for many other podcasters, they reach out and say, we have an episode, or we have a reason why we think you should promote us. Apple says yes. And then they say, what kind of images they need. And then the podcast are scrambled to get the images you’re saying, you just create that ahead of time.

Show them what it would look like in their carousel. So you’re prepared, but also persuasive ahead of time.

Deron: That’s right.

Andrew: Um, and then you say now that the big thing for you is, um, these co promotions, right? Where can you talk about how they work and how you put those together?

Deron: Yeah. So there’s different kinds. Um, you know, we, we will choose podcasts of course, that. Have intersecting audiences with our own, and we choose them based on their quality. And we will, um, commit to introducing their podcasts to our audience up to a certain number of downloads. We’ll can make a commitment, they’ll make a similar commitment to us.

So that is, that is one sort of, um, tried and true technique. I think that What we do that’s most interesting that almost no one does is that we look at our brand partner. As strategic partners as, as alliances. And so for example, uh, capital one, as you know, is a, is a partner to masters of scale. Uh, multi-year partner to masters of scale.

And capital one is really, um, has been a great resource. To small business owners and they think deeply about how to highlight small business owners on masters of scale and how to provide them the kind of resources they need to, to grow along their entrepreneurial journey. Our partnership agreement with capital one has what you would anticipate in terms of the kinds of, um, commitments we make, uh, in terms of advertising.

But that is the smallest part. Of the relationship we are, we are actively working with them to provide, um, experiences and services to small business owners that are capital one customers in ways that are, um, that are just really innovative. And that goes from, um, making the app available to hundreds of thousands are of, um, Um, I actually said that wrong to tens of thousands of small business owners to creating strategy sessions, where we’re able to coach curate entrepreneurs that have sort of this opportunity to ask direct questions, to integrating our content on, onto their, onto their website and other kinds of ways that are just very atypical and podcasts.

Andrew: What do you mean by integrate your content onto their websites? I wonder if like I did that maybe top towel wouldn’t be a former sponsor, but would it be an actual, a sponsor right now? do you do that?

Deron: Well, in the case of capital one, they have a small business resource hub. And so each week. As an episode as we release the two episodes in the feed, we curate an excerpt that, um, we think is particularly suited to small business owners and capital one distributes that content. Um, and we, we make it available to them for social and we make, and it, and it sits on their site.

Um, we anticipate next year there’ll be even more interesting integration in terms of thinking about. The distribution channels of our brand partners and bringing messages to scale as a whole, through the distribution channels of, of partners like capital one.

Andrew: Almost like if capital one is going to have a tick talk. Account for small business owners. They shouldn’t have to reach out to the types of entrepreneurs that you’re getting are masters of scale. You’ve got them already. You can clip them, make it interesting and let them publish on their feed. Is that right?



Deron: right

Andrew: Okay.

Deron: and love and allow them to contextualize in the, in the appropriate ways to, to trust that it. gets down to choosing your brand partners wisely, but to trust that capital one’s intention, they’re a business. Right. And so they’re obviously trying to, um, they’re, they’re, they’re they’re of course a massive as it’s trying to grow, grow, but, um, but their mission, um, Is is rooted in and true values and to allow them to contextualize the content to the around those values.

Andrew: Okay. My first sponsor is SEMrush. This is a tool that people use to get more traffic to their site using search engine optimization and paid ads. If you were to do them at wait, what have a partnership with them, how would you do it? Like give me a sense of how you integrate a sponsor.

Deron: And we believe that companies are the sources of some of the most important ideas in the world. And so when we look at a company and we choose who we’re going to bring the masters of scale, and we’re where we’re in a constant sold-out state, we look for companies that have insights that they have never shared publicly.

And that’s how, that’s, how we qualify them. And so, um, our ad format, which we call a three act ad is a story told in three parts,

and it’s designed to introduce ideas from companies that is, that is genuine and that that actually causes our audience to reach. so they’re designed to be sophisticated and they’re designed to unpack ideas.

That come actually from the company. And so we, you don’t hear us,

Andrew: say, no, go ahead. You don’t, I don’t hear you do what.

Deron: you don’t hear us pushing products and doing sort of product like ads. You hear us, you hear us mining, or you hear us tapping companies for their knowledge that they have not shared, that is useful to business builders.

Andrew: Ah, okay. So it might be more like you reaching out to SEMrush or in my case, if I want to learn from you, I would reach out to seminars and say, what is it? What kind of insight can people pull out of your, your research that they’re not aware of? The used, teach it to me, give it to me through an example of somebody who’s done it as a, as an entrepreneur.

And then if, since I wouldn’t do prerecorded content in this interview, I might tell that story.

Deron: That’s right.

Andrew: it. Got it. So I, I did that before the. Before I started really going into it. I reached out to my audience. I said, who out there has been using SEMrush? Give me a sense of how you’ve been using it. This woman, Anita Campbell, who’s been listening said, I used to just think of what great content we need for our audience, pay a writer to do it, and then maybe it hit.

Maybe it didn’t. She said, then I started going over to SEMrush, started typing in. The ideas that I have looking for topics that actually will be searched for in Google and only then did I go back and hire a writer and pay them to create an article on that? So it wasn’t just her instinct. It wasn’t the writer’s instinct.

It was what people were searching for in SEMrush and informed it. And as a result of that, she, uh, what did she say? Uh, if the ad rate is $10 per thousand impressions, you would need 30,000 impressions just to break even. But once you did SEMrush, she was able to grow revenue and further it’s that type of thing I did in the.

I needed to do it even further. That’s the way that I can learn from, wait, wait, am I right?

Deron: Yeah. I mean, I think, I think anything that you would find interesting to learn, right? So

her experience and what she’s learned that you could apply, it’s just, it’s the same. It’s the, you know, the questions you’re asking me could be the formats of ads, right?

Andrew: Yeah. Okay. The thing that I do that’s different is I will talk to my guest about the sponsor and often they’ve used them and they could talk about them, or frankly, Darren, sometimes they don’t like them. They use a competitor, but I like having the conversation about why they picked the competitor to understand where my sponsor fits in and frankly, where there’s a limitation.

All right. So I should say this. Here’s why they’re upset. The person who signed up for SEM rush has left the company. I told her, I can’t just have a sponsorship where I say, go use semrush.com/mixer. First of all, they don’t even have that. So I had to create a mixergy.com/semrush. So it’s a trackable link I said, but no, one’s going to go to it.

It’s a pain in the butt. They’ll just remember to go to seminars, give me a deal, give me something to make sense. And he said, okay, I’ll let your people use it for free for a month. And so she made the deal little did I know she was leaving after a couple of months? They keep running out of these. These offers in my audience keeps emailing me, saying Andrew, the coupon expired, the coupon expired and, uh, and every time it does, I bring it back.

This is just going to be available for the end of 2021. And then we’re done, uh, sadly, but if you’re out there and you want to use them, it is SEMrush. Excuse me, mixergy.com/semrush. I really appreciate Constantine Federer. Who’s the latest person to email me to say the coupon expired or they don’t have any more.

Can you get. I got more. I’m really grateful to SEMrush and I’m pretty sure of their patients go use it now while it’s still free. mixergy.com/semrush mixergy.com/semrush. Let’s talk about expanding beyond masters of scale. What’s the next podcast that you launched?

Deron: So I think what we’re, what we’re most excited about right now is, uh, is our second, I guess our second largest podcast, it’s called meditative story. It’s a completely different category. It’s hard to imagine the same company that creates masters of scale also creates meditative story and what it is it’s, it’s actually a, it’s actually an alternative to.

Traditional formats of meditation and mindfulness. And so it is a, um, either a well-known individual or a newer voice that sharing a firsthand personal story of a moment in their life where everything changed and unexpected moment of transformation, where the person they became was different than the person.

And the way that we tell these stories is with very visceral details. So you feel like you’ve trapped, you’re transported into the world of the storyteller and our host inserts, mindfulness prompts in the format itself. And it’s all designed with this breathtaking music and what we have heard it’s now it’s now downloaded about 800,000 times a month, and it has the highest list of retinol podcasts.

So it has 126% Listen through rate

Andrew: Listen through

rate meets. Yeah. What does it mean? Sorry.

Deron: Well, in this case, it means, it means the average person listens to the entire podcast and goes back and listens again. Right. So if you have a podcast that’s 30 minutes and you have a 50% listened through rate, most people are listening to half the podcast.

And what’s so interesting about it is that, um, you know, Um, listeners are telling us that they see their own lives reflected in the stories that they’re hearing, and that is improving their own inner life. And we’re starting to take it into the corporate world and that’s, that’s the most exciting development.

And we do this with all of our content. We have a there’s a media business, but our flywheel is how do you take content that you develop for a consumer audience and create value for an enterprise audience? And so we’re about to move meditative story onto a major, um, coaching platform that uses the story to open up people, to drop them in their heart space and then run a facilitated coaching experience around the story.

No one’s ever done this before. And, um, it’s an example of crossing over from media to court.

Andrew: What do you mean what it’s? So it’s corporate training that then we’ll bring the stories that you’ve produced into their training.

Deron: So it’s, it’s a platform that provides coaching and provides wellness coaching. So, right. And, but in order to have a successful coaching session, particularly if it’s around mental wellbeing, you have to. Open people up and drop them into their heart space. They have to feel, especially if they’re moving from meeting to meeting and you’re going to have a meaningful conversation.

You, you have to, the way in is through story. And so this is a experiment. And how do you initiate a coaching session with a story that, that settles somebody into enter their own emotions and allows the conversation to emerge from.

Andrew: Okay. Got it. And so you’ve partnered up with them. They’re essentially licensing your content and your reputation to help get their clients into this. Base that they could be trained. Okay. So that’s one model that you’ve gone after. Another one is membership. How has what’s in the membership and how’s that going?

Deron: So we launched membership. In August of this year, when we launched the masters of scale courses, app, and, um, we’ve designed membership to have a number of benefits. Um, the, the app has included access to live events, um, discounts to the master skill summit, which is coming up in April, um, other kinds of benefits and, you know, we’re figuring it out.

Um, we have, uh, we’ve had, um, Very strong conversion, tens of thousands of, of numbers. And we’re figuring out what, what, what works and what makes sense.

Andrew: Yeah, it seems like you’re in the stage where you’re basically putting out the membership as a way of saying, do you want to support us that the biggest benefit of the membership is the feeling of supporting a program and a peep and a group of people that your audience. Loves and you’re layering on the benefits and seeing what benefits make the most sense.

So I see that you’ve got the, uh, live events. Um, you’ve got the private feed of sleep saw with the sleep song. And discounts, but it doesn’t feel like you’ve nailed the collection of offerings. It’s more like saying let’s create this. See who wants to join when it’s at its basic level, it’s at its minimum viable product and then layer on what else we need.

Am I right about that?

Deron: Yeah.

So you’re, you’re referring to meditative story. Um, masters of scale membership is probably a better because it’s, it’s, we’ve been doing it a little bit longer. We’ve only been doing it for about seven months, but, um, but massive scale membership is less about supporting the podcast.

Um, it’s more about providing, um, a curated layer of resources.

That entrepreneurs will find deeply valuable that are very expensive for us to create and are supported through, uh, through a membership program. And right now it’s designed around providing most notably the courses that we create, but ultimately where we’re headed is we are, we are planning to, to, to create ways for cohorts of entrepreneurs to work together around common challenges.

Using our courses, but building ways So they can move through those courses as groups.

Andrew: So that actually seeing the model is very similar to the one that I created for Mixergy, where I said, I’ve got an entrepreneur on to, to do an interview about how she built her business. Now. Back on to talk about and teach how other people can do one thing that you especially good at. And we worked with the entrepreneur to create those courses.

It seems like what you do is you work with Reed to pull out the key ideas and you pull out the clips to support them. And he is teaching it using clips from the interviews that he’s done for the podcast. Am I right? But it’s teaching.

Deron: That’s right. And so we we’ve designed it. W I think where we’ve landed with masters of scale, and this is very much an evolution, but what we think we do better. Uh, than anyone else at this point is helping people understand winning entrepreneurial mindsets and providing ways that they can cultivate those mindsets.

So, so what do I mean by mindsets? Things that are, that are based on lived experience. So. Adopted bias for action. Kill your own bad ideas. Check your blind spots. Um, master your emotions, turn skeptics into fans. Like those are the kinds of things that all entrepreneurs successful entrepreneurs have have in common, right?

They have, they have, they have certain mindsets that, that have in common. So we have built, we are building. Our particular, um, thesis around entrepreneurial mindsets. And yes, What we do is in the courses app, we turn that into a daily practice. And so Reed we’ll set up the idea, expect a pivot. He will then feature we’ll feature a moment from a iconic founder talking about.

Pivoting and, and, and, and sort of how, how to, how to anticipate a pivot and then re tells you how to apply it. So it’s entirely built around this idea of daily practice and mindset building.

Andrew: What I like about mindset building. the most part, it doesn’t go out of date. If I did a course for mixer G on search engine optimization, dude, by the time it was published with one of the courses ran Fishkin who ran Moz at the time, said, Andrew, this doesn’t work anymore. It could get people in trouble.

That’s the problem. I see. You’re smiling. Cause we hit a recognition. Right? Mindset is. It’s a terminal almost right. Expect the pivot is not a thing that will go out of date. Even if the phrase is not used anymore. The idea is.

Deron: I said, I’m so happy. You said that it’s so true. You know, the key, I think, to creating content that endures over time and can be extended beyond the podcast itself, which is so key and sort of building an ecosystem is.

it is the timeless nature of it. And knowing how to design, if it’s a podcast is your first format.

We’re not a podcast company, but right now podcasts is our first format. Designing the content to have that timeless nature and to become more valuable over time is, is like, uh, like one of the most critical things that we think about.

Andrew: right. Uh, Sarah Blakely goes on to be more and more successful, more and more impactful. Maybe she turns her attention to giving later on her reputation is going. Just grow and her credibility is going to grow. And so you’ve got that built into the course that I think is, is, the first one that I did with, with the platform.

Um, the thing that struck me is you did use top tout. I used to have top towels, a sponsor. People would contact me and say I wanted a higher top tab, but they turned me down and I say why? And they said, well, I don’t have a technical co-founder. They want to interact with the development team. They don’t just.

You know, top tail doesn’t want to be the person, the company that sends you a person who builds everything for you. They want to fit people in with the company. At some point after they left me as a sponsor, they said that they were going to. They were going to do this, the whole package, tell them what you need.

Their developers will build a start to finish. I was shocked that you all use them because you got Reid Hoffman. You’ve got funding. You’ve got experience. I would have thought that you just go and hire our own development team and build that expertise in house. Why did you use top towel?

Deron: As a bridge as a bridge and they were a great bridge. We, we, we do love top tail. Uh, so get them back. Cause I think that they, they really have, um, top talent and, um, use the, because we we’re, we’re a fast growing startup. And so we just like, literally at the very end of our top tile engagement, where we had the alpha version of the app, we made five tech hires to build out our tech team.

And so we now are, you know, the app is, um, fully under our, you know, our domain, but, um, but they were a great bridge bridge solution for

Andrew: Ah, this was a way to say. We think that there’s something here we want to build as quickly as possible top towel, you build what we need, and then we’re going to take it over and make it different over time. But you get us started.

Deron: That’s right.

Andrew: Got it. And I do see the development of the app, dude, this is such a good app.

So I’ve seen them build other people’s have, this is the best one. Here’s why I like it. Here’s what I love about it because I’m in your space. So I see it. Number one. It’s basically an audio player, right? Most people don’t want to be bothered with another audio player, but you’ve got the key things that they’re looking for so that it doesn’t feel like a second class audio player, like the ability to fast forward, 15 seconds to go back 15 seconds.

Speed it up from one, two, et cetera. Speeds. The ability to download backgrounds so that people can download it before their commute. And then when they’re on the train or in the car, they don’t have to worry about connectivity, but you also thought about fricking transcript be in the app. At some point, I got to believe that Spotify is going to allow transcripts and more show notes.

They now have added, um, lyrics to music. So every time I see a song, I could see that I get the lyrics. So at some point they’re going to have to make, I hope show notes more prominent because we want more than just the audio. Um, But I also love how you’re unabashedly audio first with courses. The, The, mistake I think that I made was saying, I’m an audio person.

I learn through audio, but no one’s going to value education. If it’s just audio based, I’m going to have to bring them visuals. I’m going to have to do much more of a, of an interactive. Video expert. But I think that there’s, there are a lot of people who learn through audio first and best, and you don’t need to prance around video.

So you do that. And then finally, the fricking notes button, I could press a button and add a note. I think that real learners want to take a note on something,


Deron: Yes. Yes. I love, I love how you said audio first, not audio only. right?

And, and you’re right. And it’s, it’s the same habit that we see in podcasting. You know, people. Really maximize their commute time. They take walks, they run, they exercise and they are, their undivided attention is on audio. And that’s why you get these, you know, that’s why podcasts like Tim Ferriss podcast, or, you know, they’re so long, but they, they keep people engaged because it’s a habit.

And so yes, those are all, those are all things that we’re thinking. And we’re also thinking strategic. You know, how do we reduce our reliance on Spotify and

Andrew: Yeah.

Deron: And should we move the pot, the whole podcast into the gap and, you know, w and, and, and that’s a big, that’s a big part of the strategy because the platforms, the technology, the platforms provide isn’t, um,

isn’t, isn’t, isn’t, world-class.

Andrew: It’s got real benefits and real short shortcomings. I feel like that your answer is going to be, do both and what you’ve done now, if I understand right to say, look, we do really highly polished interview. With production and narration on our podcast. There are some people who just want the interview.

We’re going to make that an exclusive for our app. It’s not for the broader audience, but if you’re really deep in this world, you want to go deeper and have it just straight. We’re going to give it to you in the am. I right? That that’s the paid thing

Deron: That that is right, but but not too far away, we’re going to bring the whole podcast into the

Andrew: I figured, but not exclusively. Right.

Deron: not exclusively. Definitely not.

Andrew: Right. And so one of the things that I’ve heard people say a lot with my podcast is they take notes and it’s a pain to not be able to take a note in general. Or now my audience knows about this yelling out to Siri and having a note. That you dictate gets saved, but you kind of want to save together. You want it with the thing, or you want to mark off the section that matters so that you can get that.

And I feel like there are a few unique to podcasting features the Spotify and the others are not, and not only unique to podcasting, unique to podcast learners. Am I right?

Deron: You’re right. And, and also just the sharing on apple and Spotify is, is not easy. I mean, do they really make you work to share? And when you’re learning something, that’s the first thing you want to do, right, You want to learn it yourself? And you want to share it with a colleague. And so I think what you’ll see in the next iteration of the app is sharing functionality that, um, that is, is, is really, um, cutting edge and makes it easy for people to share moments on easily, um, from the podcast

and take notes around moments.

Andrew: right. The moment that’s important, this kind of reminds me of, when I talked to Emmett shear, the founder of Twitch, who said they used to give stats and then gamers would say, well, you’re not giving a stats. And they say, no, look over here. We’re showing you how many people watch this stream that you had in the game was just.

We have a sponsor, the sponsor doesn’t amount to know how many people listen to minute one and or minute, 1000. They want to know who listened to the one minute that their ad was read in because that’s what they care about. And so, yes, you could technically say that they were offering stats, but not really not the stats that matter to their audience.

And it wasn’t until Emmett talked to his people that he realized that so. When you said there’s sharing is not done well on podcasting apps, the jerk that I am, I went and I said, let me go and could prove him wrong. And there’s a share button right there. You can actually see it right on the screen. As soon as you.

But you’re right also that it share the whole podcast episode. I don’t need to share the whole podcast episode. I want to share that one insight, especially if I’m learning or trying to share the thing. What I wonder from you is how did you understand that that’s what your audience was looking for? What is your process for getting those kinds of insights from your audiences?

So you could build them into products.

Deron: Yeah. Um,

I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll answer that one thing I want to say, Andrew, that I’ve learned from you on this call is the way that you with, with humor and just the right tone, um, speak to your partners, your sponsors in the content embedded in the content itself that’s makes skipping hard, but, but, but it also is very natural, right?

And it works and it comes from a really authentic place. So I would just want to say. I’m taking that away as, as my own note from, from this conversation. Sure. Um, so the, the primary way we learn, uh, surveys, right? And we have such a crazy audience that they love to complete their surveys. And the one thing that they told us that led us to creating the app itself was that there’s now such a large body of content that they can’t find the key ideas that they, that they want to remember.

And they also want to be able to share the content. In meetings with colleagues, they’re constantly hearing things on the podcast and they’re like, ah, I have to bring this into Monday’s meeting. And so that’s a big part of, um, what they’ve told us. That’s led to the notes and led to what, what will lead to just even better sharing

Andrew: All right. Speaking of sponsor, I’m just going to do a quick one for my second sponsor. It’s Gusto. Do you know Gusto for paying your.

Deron: I’ve heard of Gastone tell me more.

Andrew: Okay. I’ve interviewed so many other entrepreneurs. Who’ve used Gusto. And now I understand why my problem is every year I have to 10 99 people. And for some reason, it always comes back to me. I’ve hired payroll companies and bookkeeping companies. And for some reason, the 10 99 comes back to Andrew to create an, I don’t want to screw that up because it has to do with taxes and I want to screw it up.

And I also don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. So I, I switched from this payment company to that payment company. Last year, I talked about another one that I went with and I really liked them. The problem is there are too many steps, too many things I, that they could do. So I could actually send out a laptop to Ari.

Who’s our producer using this payroll company thing. I can actually connect it to. To all these other apps. And I don’t need that. What I need is this, that if Ari sends me a bill, I think I could be the best person she works with. If I pay her same day and God knows I’m not going to make interest on it. I just want to be able to pay her quickly and get 10 99 to her at the end of the year, without me getting sucked into a lot of.

And so I’ve tried a bunch of different software. I now understand why people use Gusto. It’s super clear, super simple, just fricking works. I could 10 99 people, or I can pay them for my iPad with no problem. As soon as they send over an invoice. And that’s all I want. I don’t need any extra features. I want simplicity and I want it to work.

If you go to their website, they’re going to tell you that they have HR support. They’re going to tell you that they’re inexpensive. I don’t care about inexpensive. How much are they? It’s nothing. It’s peanuts. When you’re paying some, when you’re paying someone thousands of dollars and they come, Gusto comes in and says for under $50, you can use our who cares.

I just want it to work well now my audience is going to say great. It makes sense. But until they feel it, they won’t understand why I’m switching to Gusto right now, 20, 22. Are you going to get paid through Gusto, everyone else on the team going to get paid through Gusto, whether you’re a W2 or 10 99, or whatever you want.

So my audience is not going to feel it until they actually see it for themselves. And so I’m going to let you use their software for free. If you’re listening to me, it’s gusto.com/mixergy. Just go, go, try it out and then you’ll see why it makes sense. gusto.com/mixergy yoga to try for free. If you decide you love them, you’ll be able to switch to them.

It’s a great way to get started. Wow. With your 2022 payroll Gusto, it’s kind of awkward. I would do ads for a competitor and my people would say that they use Gusto and go, okay, I’m not going to hide it. Let’s be open, but let’s talk about the difference. Um, and the difference was always simplicity. And now I need simplicity.

Um, all right. Uh, how involved are you in the business side of the business? I feel like you’re a creative person, but I wonder if you’re also someone who digs the, the business side of like gust over something else, QuickBooks versus something else. You’re not,

Deron: No, the. The, the business side is actually the most interesting side for, for me. Right? Yeah. And that’s, and that, that’s what I did at Ted. I mean, I, you know, what, what was so exciting is you have this incredible body of content, which, which we now have through massive scale and meditative story. And how do you reimagine that?

I, by the way, I don’t use the word. That’s probably the only time I’ve used it this year.

I like to think of it as how do you reimagine the experience? How do you take that underlying IP and combine it with something else to create something that’s never existed? And so, um, the partnership side of wait, what is what excites me the most?

There’s so many interesting initiatives that we are pursuing for the podcast that are zagging when everybody else is zigging. And, um, yeah, that’s, that’s what really fuels.

Andrew: What’s your process for partnerships? Like, are you someone who uses a CRM to remind you, to check in with them on their birthdays? Are you looking for articles? I love how you’re so expressive with your face. That I could see that that’s like, I’m blowing that off. That seems not me. What is your process then?

Deron: Super personal. Right. So, no, we don’t, we don’t use six Salesforce or, um, any of the CRM platforms we might, we might one day, but, but right now we, um, we know the products and experiences that we want to build from the IP. And we do that outreach and, um, In a height, highly sort of, um, handcrafted way, uh, because we’re only building things that have real scale.

And we talked to every player in the space when we want to do something big. And then we, we choose one and, you know, um, we don’t focus a lot of time on sponsorship sales because, um, those happen naturally. It’s really, when we’re talking. Scale horizontally take, take the IP and create a new product out of it.

And that’s, that’s the focus of our PD.

Andrew: Can you give me an example, maybe one

specific. Yeah.

Deron: Yup. So we think that masters of scale could become a world-class business, English language learning. Right because the, the continent itself, if you were looking to do business in the English speaking world, the content itself, as someone with a basic knowledge of English is very alluring. And the way that.

Founders and CEOs on masters of scale express ideas is a learnable. It’s a learnable syntax, and there’s grammar. There’s cultural euphemisms, there’s metaphors. There’s a language grammar, a listening comprehension. And so we looked at our transcripts and we were like, this is a rich, rich body. Of language learning for a business audience.

And so we’re in the process now of talking to all of the major language learning products and companies from dual lingo to, you know, to Pearson, to Rosetta stone, you know, Berlitz and identifying the right partner to help us bring this out into the world as the first, as the, as an audio first business, English language learning products,

Andrew: Meaning that

Deron: and it’s high

Andrew: you’re meaning, if you’re in business and you don’t understand what a minimum viable product is, it’s really hard to work with you on launching a new product. Right? You don’t understand the concept, let alone understand why it matters, et cetera. You’re saying you should be teaching that to business people.

You should be teaching it to the entrepreneur. Who’s going to be launching a new product.

Deron: It’s actually aimed at, um, non-English speakers. And so it is a language learning.

Andrew: Okay.

Deron: at anyone in the world that wants to do business with English speaking companies. And so we think there’s this huge opportunity in Japan, Korea, China, south Latin America, to launch a language learning product using audio and specifically masters of skill audio.

Andrew: What do you come up with this? So one of the things that I’m trying to understand is what is, wait, what is it like a business education pro program? Is it like a masterclass for audio, with some twists? When I looked at my, what my people, my team put together as the description of what, wait, what is it

said a media invention.

I feel like maybe that’s what you’re trying to do. You’re saying there’s, there’s gotta be more creativity in the way we learn. We at wait, what are going to keep trying different things to see what are, what the new, the new method of teaching is? Or maybe there are few do different methods. Am I right?

That you’re just kind of hunting for that.

Deron: We’re a company that is elevating human potential. That’s what we do. We are a wisdom company at our heart, or you could say a teaching company and we use storytelling to do that.

And so any, any product or experience that helps people. Strengthen their skills and their ability to live to their full potential is of interest to us.

And this, you just asked for one example, this is just one. Language is a blocker for anyone that she’s in a business that doesn’t speak anymore.

Andrew: Okay. And you have a unique collection of businesses, uh, phrases that you could integrate into a language app and credibility from the speakers that you have on the podcast or, and,

Deron: That’s right. Right. and when we look for a partner, we’re looking for someone that has the pedagogy, the curriculum and pedagogical expertise to say, okay, we have 500 hours of master skill content from 140 of the world’s most iconic founders. How do we take this audio material and create curriculum around?

Andrew: Um,

Deron: Courses specifically to teach business English and the business. First of all, the language learning market is a very big market. There is, there’s almost no high-quality content for business, English, language learning. If you look at the business English language, learning content, it’s all manufactured by the language learning companies.

That’s not real content.

Andrew: Meaning

Deron: that is just one example.

Andrew: it’s what we would feel is stilted conversation.

Deron: Exactly.

Andrew: Do you ever feel a little intimidated because of the people that you’re featuring because of your connection to Reed Hoffman, one of the best entrepreneurs of our, of our lifetime, do you ever feel like it maybe slows you down? Sometimes I do. As a, as an interviewer here, I sometimes feel like maybe if I surround myself with people who are a little bit less successful, I could feel more.

More successful and more aware of my, uh, my, I dunno my strengths instead of constantly being around people who am humbled by.

Deron: Uh, I’m in the process of, of slaying my ego. So, uh, when you try to get rid of your ego, um, which is, uh, which is a process, um, you know, those kinds of things don’t really bother you. Um, no, I think we learned from the best we learned from.

Andrew: What do you mean when your ego is problematic? What does it do?

Deron: Your ego, um, are the stories that you tell yourself about yourself that are not true. And what happens is you start to identify with your own thoughts. This is, you know, this is Sam Harris. Could, could tell you more about this than I Can but it’s, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a real prohibitor from reaching your potential because you start to believe what your runaway mind tells you about yourself.

Andrew: Can you give me an

example of something that’s in your runaway mind about your.

Deron: um, It might be, uh, their, their experiences, um, things that happen every single day that I start to have runaway thoughts that, um, we could lose the business or we’re gonna lose audience, or we’re gonna lose this, or we’re gonna lose that. And I tell myself stories about myself, what I did not. To make sure that didn’t happen.

And when that happens, you have to drop back and say to yourself, those are the thoughts that your mind, you don’t have any control over. It’s like stopping on stepping onto a train

and you have to step back. And those thoughts will ultimately just fade away because they’re not real. And so your ego feeds off of false stories that you tell about yourself.

Andrew: What if it’s real, like, as I’m listening to you, I think. I should have taken audio more seriously as like a first class experience. I learn better that way. Why didn’t I do more an audio first? That’s a truth. How do I see that as like, I get your point about how that’s a train once I get on that thought I’m taking somewhere else, that’s not useful for me.

And so it’s better to get off that train. What if it’s

I see, so it’s not just.

Deron: the key is to catch yourself. And so you can train your mind and when you catch yourself, it might be an hour later where you’re just like, shit, why did I,

why did I get lost in that thinking? And soon you’ll catch yourself Right.

after you say it. And soon midway, and soon before you even say it in your own mind.

Andrew: Got it. So it’s not just, is it true or not? Is it it’s is it useful or not? And if it’s not useful, then why get on a train that’s taking you someplace. It’s not useful step off of that and be more present and be more focused on what is useful. Where’s the train that’s to use your analogy too far, but where’s the train that I, I do want to get on and.

Deron: That’s right.

Andrew: Okay. All right. This has been really helpful. Yeah. Do you feel, I feel like you should do a podcast at some point yourself to like, let us see the person behind the company and how you were thinking about it, but maybe when you got read upfront, you should probably stay behind. I don’t know.

Deron: So great talking to banter.

Andrew: Same here. And the app is it’s called. Wait, what? No, no. It’s called a masters of scale courses. It’s in the app store. I, again, I was looking for negative reviews and there weren’t any to get a sense of like, what did I miss about it? Um, but there aren’t any, it’s just a well done app, short lessons. I think, uh, the one with Sarah blankly was what, 10 minutes Blakely.

Excuse me, Blakely. 10 minutes. Um, just good stuff there. I appreciate you coming on.

Deron: Awesome. Thank you. so much.

Andrew: Thank you. Thanks everyone. Bye.

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