Episode 48

Carlton & Adam

4 Secrets to Finding Your Best Ideas

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In this special episode, Adam and Carlton talk about where you as a creator can go when you have exhausted the low-hanging fruit of content ideas. Instead of running through your personal experience or the FAQs on your website, try exploring these four areas for inspiration.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • What good content is (4:09)
  • Curate your own content diet (7:20)
  • Build a family tree (13:13)
  • Learn by copying (20:20)
  • Make what you like (27:24)
  • Favorite tweets (34:06)

Links & Resources:

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* Support the pod by spreading the word. Use this link to share: www.contentisforclosers.com

* Have you joined our private email group yet? Go to https://getheard.substack.com/ and join 300+ other content marketers & entrepreneurs scheming up ideas.


Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez  0:11  

I’ve told you this story, but I moved to South Carolina—this is right before COVID—and went to one of these things that Carlton is describing. It was like a marketing beat-up or something like this. And I was like, You know what? Moving to a new city. I’ve gotta get integrated with the marketing culture here and meet all these people. Walked in and saw a few specific things that set off triggers and red lights in my mind. The first was I heard a guy instantly—and this is crazy. I’m not making this up—instantly, he was selling car insurance at the thing. And I was like, Oh, no. Oh.


Carlton Riffel  0:47  

Insurance, your talk.


Adam Vazquez  0:48  

Yeah. This is not good. And then there was a dude that walked in with a polo and a sports coat. Like your own fashion—


Carlton Riffel  0:57  

We’re gonna step on some toes here.


Intro  1:03  

Put that content down. Content. The close is over. What’s your name? Content. That’s my name. You know why, mister? Because you drove a Hyundai to get here tonight. I drove an $80,000 BMW. That’s my name. Content Is for Closers.


Adam Vazquez  1:24  

All right. All right. We’re back with another episode of Content Is for Closers got a different one for you today. Carlton, we were talking about trying to grow the audience, trying to grow their relationship with you and I as hosts. And I think what we settled on is— This is the barometer we’re going to start measuring against: we’re currently at a healthy, evangelical church size, I would say, in terms of our audience size. There’s a great group of people here on Sundays. We’re not a mega-church yet. May never get there. We’re not a music venue packed out for T Swift, but we’re on our way. I think that was the analogy.


Carlton Riffel  2:03  

So our next goal is really just mega-church, like mega-church, just small mega-church, what’s another, an extra medium-sized church?


Adam Vazquez  2:13  

Exactly. And what the thing that comes with churches or with just larger audiences, in general is that you’re not just going to hear a guest that’s interviewed, right? I mean, you might, if it’s a big enough guest, if it’s Elon, you might go to a conference. But there has to be some value that the speaker, the host, the creator, the author, whatever, brings themselves in order for that audience to grow. And so that’s what some of these episodes are going to be. You’ll notice if you’re a regular listener with us, and we have several, these will come out on Fridays. So we’ll have our normal interview episodes continue to roll out Tuesday, Wednesdays, and then on Fridays, you’ll see some of these that are a little bit more topical, that hopefully will help you in your content journey.


Carlton Riffel  3:00  

We’re just trying to bless your weekend. We’re gonna make you have an extra good weekend full of helpful tidbits from Carlton and Adam.


Adam Vazquez  3:06  

That’s right. So for this first one, we were kind of like, alright, what do we talk about? What are content ideas that we can even discuss and have a positive impact on? Where can we find content ideas? And in that question, in figuring out how to answer that question, we stumbled upon this episode. So that’s kind of what we’re going to talk about today, we’re gonna talk about how you as a creator, you as a podcast host, where you can go, especially once you’ve sort of exercised—or exhausted, that’s where I was looking for—the low hanging fruit of, okay, here’s my personal experience. This is what I’ve done. Or here are all the FAQs on my website. Those are the easy ones.


Carlton Riffel  3:07  

For the people who haven’t heard that really the most easy low-hanging fruit is take what’s on your website and make content about it. That’s like, easy, low-hanging fruit. So this is going to step beyond being a little meta because we’re talking about finding ideas while we were trying to find ideas, but that’s where we landed today.


Adam Vazquez  4:05  

Yeah, so you’re kind of seeing our process in real life. The one thing I think we need to establish right up front is what good content is. There are a lot of different definitions of it. But I think one that we’re sort of using, this is not a final definition is not a be all definition is that it has three attributes being it’s fresh, it is value valuable to the audience, and it’s credibility building. And so I just want to establish that because our content ideas, finding good content ideas will be measured against that definition. We can talk about why that definition is important but fresh. Obviously, the algorithms blessed freshness, we are seeing that we were just looking yesterday at our analytics and they’ve almost doubled be by as we’ve continued to increase volume of publishing valuable obviously no audience is going to listen If you’re not adding value, but on the flip side, if you’re not doing things that are going to add credibility to your own brand and to your own business, then you’re just having fun. It’s probably not something that you can sustain long-term. So those are the three things that we started with.


Carlton Riffel  5:15  

I’ll say, too, with value: There are a lot of different ways you can bring value. So you could bring value through entertainment, you can bring value through information, we’ve gone through some of this before. But that’s I think the big takeaway is with, especially with value is, don’t get stuck in just thinking that value has to be just information that somebody’s listening for. There are a lot of different ways to bring that in that kind of goes hand in hand with that freshness, not just doing the same thing over and over again.


Adam Vazquez  5:41  

Yeah. 100%. All right. So can I tell you about the book that we’re going to kind of use the foundation? And there are four places to look for fresh content inside of that. Is that alright?


Carlton Riffel  5:52  

Yeah, let’s hear it.


Adam Vazquez  5:54  

So the book is, let me actually grab it.


Carlton Riffel  5:55  

You have it on your shelf, in physical—


Adam Vazquez  5:58  

It’s fresh because I was doing some brushing up on this. The book is called Steal Like an Artist. If you’re watching on YouTube, you can see it. It’s by an author named Austin Kleon. Have you seen this, Carlton?


Carlton Riffel  6:09  

Yeah, I read it. So here’s the question for you, Adam. Do you know who the first person to say steal like an artist who was? You know who that’s taken from? It’s actually taken from Pablo Picasso. He was the first one to say that.


Adam Vazquez  6:22  



Carlton Riffel  6:23  

Maybe somebody said before him and they just didn’t write it down, but yeah, he’s the one that it’s attributed to, saying “steal like an artist.”


Adam Vazquez  6:30  

Wow. So we’re actually learning from like, the Michael Jordan of artists here, which is Yeah, which is encouraging. And yeah, this book, highly recommend it. If you haven’t, it’s very short. You can see here like, and a lot of it is he’s kind of an author, but he uses a lot of pictures. And I don’t know, what would you call this? Word art, I guess.


Carlton Riffel  6:47  

Yeah, infographics.


Adam Vazquez  6:48  

Infographics. And so anyway, really, really helpful book. He has three associations, illustrations, he’s got three books, and he gives a ton more than what we’re going to cover. But there were four areas specifically that I thought, were really helpful for me, I think, just in some order. It’s curating your own content diet, copying (obviously, stealing like an artist, copying people that you appreciate), building a family tree, and making what you like, not only what you know. Where do you want to start with those four?


Carlton Riffel  7:17  

I think that first one is good, just curation because I think— So here’s, and I’ll say this as a person who is an artist. I went to art school.


Adam Vazquez  7:25  



Carlton Riffel  7:26  

Yeah, sorry. I had to do it once. In a lot of ways, a lot of people think of art and they’re like, Okay, when it comes to creativity, here’s the be-all, end-all. And even some people will say, Oh, well, I’m not creative, I’m just in marketing, or I’m just in software or something. And really, a lot of those things are way more creative, or just as creative as art can be. It’s just, they’re in a different medium. So in art school, you kind of get used to like curating, and managing these areas of inspiration. So everyone kind of had their secret sources of inspiration, like you go to this like part of the library that no one else really knew about. And like, maybe it was a science textbook or something, and you just look through and look for interesting illustrations and styles. But everyone was kind of like guarding these areas of inspiration. And this is kind of like, as the internet is gaining in popularity, and some of the tools are kind of coming out. So Pinterest was invented, or actually became popular, when I was in college. So it’s like, we’re figuring out all these tools. And everyone starts to kind of pull from the same sources. And I think this is something you got to think about, how are your sources different than anyone else’s? And what sources are you going to that are, are intriguing, or give you interesting nuggets, because if you’re just searching where everyone else is, you’re gonna have a hard time coming up with something unique and interesting.


Adam Vazquez  8:52  

Yeah, that’s really good. So you said that was when you were in college?


Carlton Riffel  8:56  

Yeah, Pinterest was kind of coming-to, but there was also just really searching on the internet brought up a lot of the same results, when people—


Adam Vazquez  9:06  

It’s interesting because I think if people are watching this, they’d probably think you might just be about to enroll in your freshman year of college.


Carlton Riffel  9:17  

We’re not gonna talk about ages here. The second .com boom, not the first.


Adam Vazquez  9:21  

Yeah. It’s a great example. I feel like a lot of artists have things like that sketchbooks or just different I mean, I guess that’s what Pinterest is, but different ways to collect ideas like that more than words. For the non-artists, it can be a little bit intimidating or for me it is because I don’t think of myself as a curator of anything, except maybe some like hot sports takes or something like that. But I think there are some examples that I’ve seen other people do really well that I’m like, Okay, why sort of do that in my own way. One example is Jeff Sheldon from Ugmonk. He obviously is an artist, but he sends out his— You know his email that he sends out? I can’t remember what it’s called.


Yeah. Fresh Friday Five?


Fresh Friday Five or something like that. But he sends out these emails. Yeah, I guess it his five favorite things.


Carlton Riffel  10:13  

Yeah, five favorite things. We’re mixing it up with the Continent Is for Closers one—


Adam Vazquez  10:16  

Yeah, that’s ours. I was like—


Carlton Riffel  10:18  

…that used to get sent out.


Adam Vazquez  10:21  

Shots fired. Anyway. Yeah, so the Five Favorite Things Jeff sends out it has nothing to do with necessarily his products or his business. But he’s sending out the five things, the five products that caught his attention that week online. And when you just think about it, inherently people who are interested in Jeff’s opinion on household goods, office goods, clothing, the types of things, yeah, they’re gonna care also about what other products are catching his attention. So it inherently has value for his audience. But he’s just sharing, Hey, these are the interesting things I saw this week. Another example is what we’re going to do at the end of this episode, we’re going to share some of our favorite tweets from the past week. And you and I spent a lot of time on these Twitter streets, we ingest a ton of content. And so just finding the thing that you’re already consuming, and then sharing that back with your audience, I think is the core idea here. It doesn’t have to be overly artistic, it doesn’t have to be overly developed in terms of what you share. It’s just what made an impact on you. How can you further deploy that or add to that when you share it with your audience?


Carlton Riffel  11:32  

Yeah, absolutely. And we don’t want to beat this point too much, but I think at the end of the day, you have to gather as much as you can because it’s from the amount that you gather, and you kind of look at that helps synthesize those interesting connections. And if you’re just trying to steal from the one or two things that are popular, then it’s going to be plagiarism and it’s going to be obvious where he got it from. But if you can just gather a ton of different things that are interesting, your brain will work on its own to kind of create these connections, and develop new and interesting insights.


Adam Vazquez  12:06  

Yeah, and to that point, I think a couple places here that you can look are just anywhere besides your industry. So if you’re in supply chain, and you’re listening to this, what are direct-to-consumer brands doing? What is the drink that you bought that Amazon shipped to your house? Like, what is that drink brand doing that you can borrow from or steal from? If you’re a DTC brand, what’s the enterprise software that you use for your CRM, like what are they doing in terms of content, just taking start taking notice of these things that you’re consuming and participating in? And then sharing them.


Carlton Riffel  12:43  

All right, that’s it comes down to observation. Like that’s at the end of the day, what you’re saying is just observe more than what your focus is for work. So yeah, if it relates to outside influences, or things that maybe you don’t even like things that you hate, you still learn from it, we’re still looking, I’m still observing what makes him successful. And you can kind of apply that to your own sphere of influence.


Adam Vazquez  13:08  

So that is curation. Which one do you want to do next?


Carlton Riffel  13:10  

Let’s do building a family tree.


Adam Vazquez  13:13  

Okay. I like this one. This is probably my favorite one. I renamed it building a coaching tree, if that gives you an idea of where we’re going with this. But yeah, well, what was your thoughts on this, this place to look for content ideas?


Carlton Riffel  13:26  

Yeah, I’ll kind of let you take the thunder because he loves sports ball. But I think at the end of the day, like there are different connections that we have, and especially in the marketing world, people think about networking, a lot, people try to create this huge network of not just their audience, but people they can connect with. And so it’s super important. But there’s a point at which it’s it’s reciprocal, like people will really a lot of times give you what you put in. And I think when it comes to building that family tree, you have to be intentional about how do you connect with and how you connect with them. And especially if you get to like some of these marketing things that are a little bit like surface level, or shallow level. It’s easy to like, go there, kind of put in the like, shake the hand, say hello.


Adam Vazquez  14:10  

First of all— I don’t want to interrupt you.


Carlton Riffel  14:12  

Yeah, you’re right.


Adam Vazquez  14:13  

That’s not easy because I—and I’ve told you this story, but I moved to South Carolina (this is right before COVID) and went to one of these things that Carlton is describing. It was like a marketing beat-up or something like this. And I was like, You know what? Moving to a new city. I’ve gotta get integrated with the marketing culture here and meet all these people. Walked in and saw a few specific things that set off triggers and red lights in my mind. The first was I heard a guy instantly—and this is crazy. I’m not making this up—instantly, he was selling car insurance at the thing. And I was like, Oh, no. Oh.


Carlton Riffel  14:51  

Insurance, your job.


Adam Vazquez  14:52  

Yeah. It’s just not good. And then there was a dude that walked in with a polo and a sport coat. Like, your own fashion—


Carlton Riffel  15:01  

We’re gonna step on some toes here.


Adam Vazquez  15:02  

Yeah, that’s fine. Like, those are your fashion choices. But for me, and like the marketing, I can’t like, that’s not a good sign. Okay, let’s just say that for a marketing meeting, and the third thing was I think somebody else was talking about how they can help somebody with SEO. So again, all things that are legitimate. Insurance, I use it. Sport coats and polos, I don’t but I understand. And SEO all real things, but just immediately sent goosebumps down my neck. So I did a lap. Somebody was like, “Did you get your name tag? Or did you get your—” And I was like, “Oh, you know what? Oh, somebody’s calling me. Let me take this real quick.”


Carlton Riffel  15:42  

Oh, the old call trick.


Adam Vazquez  15:43  

Stepped outside, got in my car, and went. I was there for three minutes. But anyway, sorry to interrupt you. But I just had to correct it’s not that easy just to show up to the network thing. But your point, your point is still legitimate.


Carlton Riffel  15:58  

Yeah, he just needed a wingman at night. Yeah, I mean, I think at the end of the day, like, there’s always different ways to make connections. But I think it’s easy, especially as you progress in your career to become stagnant with the people that you’re networked with. But being intentional and taking it past that first step of just exchanging the business card. Following up is a huge thing that so many people just don’t do checking in finding random days to just reach out. Yeah, that will go a really long way.


Adam Vazquez  16:27  

I think it’s past just networking, too, right. Like in Austin’s book, he talks about the idea of a family tree or a coaching tree as taking inspiration from artists who you look up to artists who have influenced your work, putting them up and acknowledging that so that you can make sure there’s a diversity of ideas and skills you’re taking from and then making sure you’re pouring into the people underneath you. And to the sports analogy we kind of alluded to earlier. I do love the coaching tree philosophy, like great coaches produce great coaches. And I also think that some of the best athletes ever have done the same thing.


I’m going back to the bookshelf. Book number two today. This one’s called the Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant. To be honest, I’m not the biggest Kobe fan. But one thing that I think Kobe did that really separated him from a bunch of anybody else in his generation is he borrowed all of these tools and tricks and moves from the greatest players that had come before it. So obviously, the obvious comparison everyone makes is with Michael Jordan. Kobe studied Michael, tried to make his voice sound like Michael, mimic Michael and a bunch of different ways. But that’s not the only person that he mimicked. He took a little bit from Michael, he’s famous for having studied Hakeem Olajuwon’s footwork. And so if you watched Kobe play, especially later in his career, he had these beautiful moves in the post, where he was able to just manipulate and get around people who are bigger than him. That’s because he was studying Hakeem is at the very end of his career, he did a bunch of shooting work with Steph Curry, who has become the greatest shooter ever in the year since. So he pieced together his career and became one of the greatest players ever by borrowing and taking a little bit here and there, the mentality that Michael had all these different things. And as creators, I think a lot of times we get this, we put this pressure on ourselves that we need to come up with something wholly new, and original to us. And it’s just the reality of (A) what we’re doing and (B) the internet that like nothing we’re going to say is going to be truly original. So the better move then, is to find and acknowledge those creators that we look up to—and when I say creators, that could be entrepreneurs, that can be salespeople that can be artists that could be a bunch of other things—and thoughtfully, intentionally taking from them stealing from them in order to compile our own skill set. Did I take that too far? Did I take the sports thing too far, Carlton?


Carlton Riffel  19:01  

No, that’s good, man. When something new every time I was gonna just drop the fact about Phil Jackson, Steve Kerr. And just to prove that I do know a couple things about—


Adam Vazquez  19:12  

Wait, drop that fact? What do you mean? What is the fact?


Carlton Riffel  19:14  

Well, when you were saying that great coaches produce great coaches, it was just great that I knew that connection. I’m not completely ignorant when it comes to sports.


Adam Vazquez  19:25  

Yeah. Phil made Steve Kerr. And by the way, Steve Kerr also was on the Spurs with Gregg Popovich, who’s maybe number three or something all times.


Carlton Riffel  19:36  

I didn’t know that, so there you go. Yeah, so in this whole thing we’re talking about when it comes to stealing, like an artist is really just doing that figuring out how you can learn from and take from things that have been done before. There’s nothing new under the sun. We used to say, when I taught for high schoolers, there’s something called the originality complex where these kids would come in thinking, “There has to be something completely original, never before seen by the human eye that I will create in this one-hour art class.” And it was always a struggle because they’re struggling so much, but just this idea that there’s something out there and that they haven’t found it yet that they didn’t have the time to practice the actual skills and develop and actually become good at the craft. So at some point, you’ve got to kind of lean into bettering your craft. And this is kind of the next part we’re going to talk about is learn by copying. So it’s okay to get into copy mode, where you’re just and I tell my students, like, I’m not saying that good drawing is just copying, like I’m saying the exact opposite. And how you become a better artist and how you learn to copy or how you learn to create good art is by copying line by line some of these great artists. Copy the great line work of Albert there and figure out ways to hatch like he did or figured out ways to, in the business world, make a decision like your favorite business person, whoever that may be.


Have you ever read the Benjamin Franklin biography? I think there’s one by Walter Isaacson. Have you heard of that one? I might be wrong on that. I know I’ve read at least two different biographies by Ben Franklin, but he’s one of my favorite characters in history. I just absolutely. There are so many things about him that are super interesting. But this was a point that he stressed over and over was learn from the greats by copying them copy their work word for word, take different parts, meld them together, and see what you can develop. What do you have to add to that?


Adam Vazquez  21:34  

This is my favorite one. I mean, the first two are a little bit more ethereal, or a little bit more strategic, like curate what you observe, learn from the greats. embrace that. But specific, if you’re like me, you’re like, okay, but specifically, how do I get better at the craft of content? And this is the answer to me, like you said, it’s copy work. So it’s, whatever your craft is, if you are a writer, it’s sitting down longhand, and copying out writers who are better than if it if you’re a speaker, it’s saying with your mouth with your words, a speech or an interview, or whatever that someone else did. Who is better than you were, if you’re an artist, you gave that example, a visual artist.


I did this. I just did this. You know about this. I took Sam pars course called Copy that, which is a course is probably the is not the right descriptor for it. But it’s essentially a set of exercises, where he provides you with some best-in-class writing examples, going all the way back to like great ads from the 50s Newer ads, there’s a Louis C K, like bit in there that you end up writing out. So it’s kind of a sampling from a bunch of different genres. So for 14 days, every day, you spend 30 or 45 minutes writing longhand what these other better writers wrote. And I’d be curious, because I know what I think. But have you noticed anything? And if not, don’t lie. We can just— Have you noticed any difference in my writing since I took that course? Or have you ever—


Carlton Riffel  23:15  

Oh, absolutely. That’s why all five of my tweets are just Adam tweets at the end of this.


Adam Vazquez  23:22  

Oh, wait, the five tweets? No. But seriously, have you seen—?


Carlton Riffel  23:25  

No, I have. It’s gotten better, and I think some of that is you’ve taken a more systematic approach. But undoubtedly, even in your emails and some of the stuff that you’ve sent us internally, I think you’re just thinking about it in a more critical way. And kind of comparing it to that to some of these other things that have been written and that you copy.


Adam Vazquez  23:44  

Yeah, and I don’t say that to say like, how great my writing has been because if you knew what I was doing before, it just wasn’t that good. I just say that to point out that I think it does have a really, really fast impact. And it’s not like there’s a new like you just said you, I think you’re coming at it more systematically. It’s interesting because it’s not like I learned a new way of writing, right? Like, or I didn’t learn a first to a headline, then do this, then do that a process. It’s more so I think as you do the copy work, you almost by osmosis begin to learn your own system and learn what is good and what works. And, and so anyway, I think that’s really, really, really, really valuable exercise. The other thing I’d say, too, is, this extends past just the craft or the art itself. I’ll give you another perfect example. We know that unlimited services, things that have the word unlimited in them. And things that have two-day turnaround times are very, very popular in the marketplace. There are a ton of different examples. Amazon is the biggest. And so what we have done with our business model is we have beta tested this isn’t like you unless you have the link and we haven’t really promoted it but we have this service called Heard Prime. You might notice where we got that. You might notice some similarities there. And it’s the service is applied to our business. But it’s copied directly from a business model we’ve seen from people who are more successful and better than we are at the thing. So I think I think copying is has done a lot. Have you done this personally, aside from your teaching? Or have you seen anything where you yourself have benefited from it?


Carlton Riffel  23:44  

Yeah, so I mean, I keep going back to art examples. But even in the design world, like this is kind of the go-to exercise for becoming a better UI UX designer, because people struggle with the same thing with that, too. They wanted to just create something totally innovative, totally new, but just even pixel by pixel, copying some of these interesting software that we use every single day, like some of the interactions on a simple things like Instagram, or think a famous one that you see everywhere is Airbnb. Like, trying to recreate Airbnb or trying to recreate some of these sites that have like a lot of listings, or a lot of unique interactions, or filters, or things that you kind of have to put parameters on to, to see different results and just pixel by pixel copying that to understand like, why are the choices? How did they solve— When you go to YouTube and you try to type or search this thing, how did they solve for that? How did they figure out how exactly where to put that button or where to put that menu? And just doing that in the past has helped me with UI and UX design.


For writing, we’ve joked about this quite a bit on the podcast, like, I hate writing something with words, it just feels like way too many choices, and it just becomes overwhelming. But it’s something that I’m trying to get better at, at the present time. So I definitely need to do some more copying when it comes to writing.


Adam Vazquez  26:48  

Yeah, and it just makes sense, right? If you’re trying to learn music, you don’t go write your own song, for the very first thing you learn. I mean, you didn’t use the instrument.


Carlton Riffel  26:57  

We’ve completely normalized it for music.


Adam Vazquez  27:00  

Right, and for a lot of different things, if you’re, if you’re trying to learn how to play a sport, you don’t like try to reinvent the game, you just try to learn the way that everybody else has done it. For some reason, when it comes to business and to work. Again, it’s this originality complex, but we’ve been afraid to take what other people have done, who are better. So I think copying is a great way to break through that.


Alright, the last one here is to make what you like, not only what you know. I’ll be honest, this one is the most difficult for me personally, but it’s something that we are doing right now by recording this episode.


Carlton Riffel  27:37  

Yeah. Yeah. Adam just loves talking to me, so that’s why we’re doing this.


Adam Vazquez  27:42  

I mean, I do, but— Yeah.


Carlton Riffel  27:45  

Yeah, I think for me, this is my favorite one, just because— and I understand that it is difficult and there is like a harder barrier of entry to this for some people than others. But like, this is when kids would ask me when I taught, “Should I become an artist? Or should I go to art school?” This is usually what I tell them: If you cannot help but create new things. Like, if you’re in class and you’re supposed to be doing something else but you find yourself drawing. If it’s just in you and it has to come out, then consider art school. If you would rather tinker with some other things and not and you just kind of feel like drawing is kind of fun. And it’s kind of something that you do on the side to kind of like, Oh, that’s cool. That was fun to create a little painting, then definitely think about it twice before you go into something like that because there’s a certain amount of skill that you can develop and increase but unless you are producing something that you absolutely love, and you can’t wait to do again, then you’re gonna have a harder time doing that as a career when it comes to art specifically.


So yeah, I think with this specifically, when it comes to content, there are certain things that people absolutely love, and you can share that with. And so I think it’s finding those things that you can almost practice creating through the thing that you love, right? It’s not like it’s going to be the most monetizable piece of content, or it’s going to be the thing that gets the most attention, but you can at least use what you enjoy about that thing to practice your creative muscle for content creation.


Adam Vazquez  29:23  

Yeah, I think this is in some ways the easiest if you just think of it in terms of like steps or tactics. It’s like, just go try to make something. But in a lot of ways, it’s harder because— especially for those of us who are a little bit perfectionist in nature. I want to speak on this too when we get to the five tweets later. I have some examples that speak directly into this, but there’s so much bad content out there. There’s so much cringe-worthy content that gets produced or published that you’re like, what made you think you should do that? And so If you like media, if you consume or see that or digest it, you’re like, Well, I’m going to do whatever I can to avoid that I’m only going to publish if it’s polished. And the problem with that is, and a big one is I’m only going to publish what I’ve experienced. I’m only going to teach or try to explain something that is my firsthand experience. But if you applied that logic to anybody else to anything else, we would have no professors in colleges, right, we would have no pastors, we’d have no counselors, because no one person can experience everything. Somebody, an economics professor can experience being the best stock trader in the world. And having experienced bankruptcy as the operator of a fortune 100 company, maybe like one economics professor has done that, but most of them can’t. So we, as creators hold ourselves to this really lofty and unfair bar of “if I haven’t experienced it, I shouldn’t speak into it.” It’s just not true. The same process that all these other industries go through that we acknowledge and just accept, like a professor spending their summer studying new material and then teaching them material. That’s the same thing we need to go through on a regular basis. And so finding the way that you can execute it and that you enjoy, and you made a joke. “Well, Adam just likes talking to me, that’s why—” I actually do. This is how I learn, so that’s why we do it this way. And I think finding that for you, whoever you are— I’m thinking of one of our customers specifically. I know they’re having trouble coming up with content ideas. So you—and I know you’re listening, I’m not going to say your name—how do you like to learn? How do you like to find new ideas? If you’re looking for—because I know who you are—if you’re looking for a new duck hunting tactic, what is it that you’re going to do to learn about that duck hunting tactic? Take that and now create new content for your audience using the same thing. I think that’s kind of the takeaway.


Carlton Riffel  29:31  

All of the duck hunters that listen to our podcast just got a tremendous—


Adam Vazquez  32:06  

ALL the duck hunters. Yeah, all the duck hunters. I’m sure there’s some.


Carlton Riffel  32:15  

And then, too, I think the other aspect of that is some people stop at “what I’ve experienced,” and then other people stop at— not just experienced, they think, “I have to have mastered this thing. I’ve got to get to the bottom of the very, very best way to represent this.” And that’s just an impossibility for a lot of people. So take what you do know, take what you do love, and create with that first, and then let it progress from there as you learn.


Hey, that was good, Adam. I hope other people enjoy that. We didn’t practice this before and I think it turned out pretty good.


Adam Vazquez  32:48  

Hopefully, everybody agrees with us. Somebody’s like, “You think it turned out well? Maybe not based on some of what you guys create.”


Carlton Riffel  32:57  

So, in conclusion, though, I would say that, really, this whole idea of stealing like an artist is just one concept. But there are a ton of different tips and concepts embedded within that and different ways that you can exercise it. So what’s the next thing that you can practice? What’s the first thing that you can tackle that falls under this category of just observing, looking at what other people are doing kind of building that portfolio of greats that have come before you. And then copying from them, not just claiming it as your own, but changing it, modifying it, adding to it. And then doing that with things that you love, and letting it come out of a place of joy and of enjoyment as you create.


Adam Vazquez  33:42  

Really good. So listen, if you are listening still, we would love to hear your feedback. We’d love to know—


Carlton Riffel  33:48  



Adam Vazquez  33:48  

If you’re at this point, you’ve made it 35 minutes or whatever we’re in this, we’d love to know if this was helpful if this is something that you’d like for us to do more on other content-related topics. Or if we just should stick to sports, which I’m fine with, whatever you think we should do.


Before we wrap up, I do want to give us a chance— Carlton, you had this idea that we should share our favorite tweets from the past week. I love that, think it’s a great example of the first step (duration). So how are we going to do this? How many are we doing, first of all?


Carlton Riffel  34:17  

Well, maybe we should just— I mean, we’re kind of running out of time. What if we go until we have three?


Adam Vazquez  34:25  

Three total or three each?


Carlton Riffel  34:28  

Three reach.


Adam Vazquez  34:28  

Okay, all right.


Carlton Riffel  34:29  

Six total.


Adam Vazquez  34:30  

All right. You start us off.


Carlton Riffel  34:32  

Whew, I gotta kind of quickly choose between my—


Adam Vazquez  34:35  

Okay, I can start. So the first one that I had— I kind of did these in a couple of different ways. But the first one that I had, this one comes from Justin, just Justin Yeah, Justin only one Justin trying to give the username, of course, to Justin Jackson. He tweeted out about the fact that he started his company. So this is the founder of transistor FM, which is a podcast hosting platform, they we use simple cast as a competitor to theirs. And he didn’t start transistor until he was in his late 30s. He and his partner both I think his partner, it was in their 40s. And it didn’t even scale until they were both in the middle of their mid-40s. And so he wrote this thread about the fact that the narrative that you have to be young to start a successful startup is wrong. And I think the key of that thread, or the key tweet was that he said, Yes, it’s multiple factors, the idea that you can start one when you’re older, but he says the accumulation of skills, experiences, intuition, connections, and resources is the key to finding success. I thought that was so good and so different than what most of the common discourse is around starting companies, specifically, this idea that— Normally we think, “Oh, you have to be a young person. You have to have all this influence,” but for many people, it’s actually the culmination of a careers worth of work that allows you to have the opportunity to build a company. And this is the old way of doing it. Like back in the day, you’d be a lawyer for however many years and then you’d open your own law shop, you’d be a blacksmith for years, and you open your print, yeah, that that model has kind of gone away a little bit. But I think for most people, and especially maybe older people who might be listening to this, you’re just about to hit your prime years for starting a company. And I just think that’s encouraging and excited to think about.


Carlton Riffel  36:29  

Yeah, that’s awesome. So I’ll try to go fast. But we were talking about maybe outline threads. But I think at the end of the day, some of the best stuff right now is in threads. So we’ll keep it. So this one is from Dan Colcove. I think I said it right. Sorry, Dan, if I didn’t. I’m sure he’s listening to it.


Adam Vazquez  36:46  

Let us know, Dan.


Carlton Riffel  36:47  

Yeah, let us know, Dan. So he’s kind of considers himself an indie maker, he was the CEO of a couple of different companies. So he just kind of pointed out some really good articles that have come from the website, indie hackers. So that’s like one of my sources of inspiration. So I’d seen a few of them. But not all of them. There’s a ton of stuff that kind of comes through that pipeline. So it’s hard to keep up and read everything. But these 10 were really, really good. I’ll kind of leave it at that. Because if I was to dive into it, there’s just so much gold in there. So this is just from July that he just gathered these articles, and there are some really good ones.


Adam Vazquez  37:22  

What is the overall theme of them, just to tease them?


Carlton Riffel  37:26  

Yeah, so they’re all kind of like indie hacker-related. So they’ve got like, something is as focused and as narrow as six tips for the perfect SaaS, so that’s pretty narrow. But then on the other side of it, there’s one in there. That’s basically how to get to 1 million user.


Adam Vazquez  37:44  

Okay, so pretty hard-hitting? Yeah, that’s great.


Carlton Riffel  37:47  

Yeah, yeah, pretty broad for some of them and pretty narrow for others. But I just thought it was a really good list. I went through and read all of them that day. And I was like hyped up on content, so that’s my number one. What’s your number two?


Adam Vazquez  38:01  

Alright, I’m having to reshuffle the deck here because we went down to three. So my next one is going to be from @growthcurrency. Dylan as I believe his name. And I had a bunch here that I was going to do, but I think the theme of all of them was building in public or building in real life. And what Dylan did was— He writes a newsletter for creators, he helps people build their email list and all that sort of thing. And so he basically published an entire course on how to get your first 1,000 subscribers in a Twitter thread. And so that thread, I think, is my number two, not so much. Because it’s so great or so impactful. I don’t know, I haven’t been able to put these things into action yet, because I just read it yesterday. But what I think was so interesting to me is two things. One, he’s just putting it out there. He’s not like putting any heavy paywall or anything like that, he’s just expecting that people will appreciate the value he creates and either subscribe or dig deeper into his content as a result. And number two, he is following his own advice of building and public by doing this and subsequently building his own email list. And I think it just goes to what we were talking about earlier. Yeah. about not being too precious about your content ideas, doing some of that curation, doing some of that thinking out loud and letting the kind of letting your audience decide what’s good and what’s not. So that’s my second one.


Carlton Riffel  39:25  

Okay, so for my number two, it’s coming from Alex Brogan. Much easier name to say.


Adam Vazquez  39:31  

Yeah, I like it.


Carlton Riffel  39:33  

Yeah, a little bit easier. So this is another tweet thread. I couldn’t help myself. I love a good tweet thread.


Adam Vazquez  39:38  

We literally— Before we got on, Carlton was like, “I think we should ban tweet threads.” Now all of them have been tweet threads. Okay.


Carlton Riffel  39:48  

So this is “10 mental concepts that will make you way smarter,” so pretty generic-sounding title there, but I thought really his whole list was comprised of some good mental frameworks that I hadn’t seen. There are some ones that just show up all the time. And he didn’t go to the obvious one. So we’ll just give you one takeaway or one quick, quick bite of the thread. And this first one was systems versus goals. So to achieve more focus on the process, first the system that will get you to the goal. So he’s got some interesting things like that, where he kind of breaks it down some ones that maybe people have heard of, but some more unique ones that may be. So that’s my number two.


Adam Vazquez  40:30  

All right, number three. This was inspired by you, Carlton. We were talking yesterday, sort of the impetus for this top tweets segment was you mentioned, sometimes you feel like you there’s so much to consume. And if you don’t stay on top of it, then you could be missing out or whatever. And I said, my response was, I sort of used to feel that way too. Except then I think sometimes that all Twitter is just complete BS and sort of useless. And so one point in that in that favor, this tweet comes from Greg 1-667-693-5420. If you’re a Twitter user, you probably know about Greg. He’s everywhere. He’s kind of a meme account. He tweeted yesterday, if Elon Musk takes the $44 billion, he was planning to use, divide Twitter and divides it evenly to everyone in the world, we would all get up for $5 million. I can’t even get through it. But the reason I picked this tweet is because obviously, he’s joking. He’s a meme account. Like, this thing has been, quote, tweeted up and down by people virtue signaling being like, how is Elon not going to do this? Elon is an evil person if he does not provide this money for, for everyone. And if you just think about it for less than a second, you know that math makes no sense whatsoever, but has gotten extremely viral with people just buying Greg’s stock and buying his stupid means that but anyway, I just think that’s, I love Twitter. I’m a huge power user. But I just don’t take it that seriously sometimes, for reasons like this.


Carlton Riffel  42:12  

That’s great, man. And so my third one is a similarly humorous, not quite as much as the, to your followers. So I don’t know if you’ve seen that meme of the guy who’s got like a weight equipment. And he’s like, doing just impossible things with it. Like his first one is the roller with a couch on his back. So this is just for our YouTube users. I wanted to give them a good treat. But the name is essentially people who are still doing UI design in Photoshop, and it’s just got this guy. So yeah, it’s a clever use of this meme.


Adam Vazquez  42:46  

It’s the dude who’s like— I can’t really explain it. He’s carrying a weight bench while he’s running on the treadmill or something. Stuff like that, right?


Carlton Riffel  42:53  

Yeah. It’s like he’s jump roping with the barbell. And he’s got like, yeah, strapped to his chest with chains. I mean, I’m impressed the guy could bench this stuff but makes for a good meme.


Adam Vazquez  43:03  

That’s great. We’ll have to keep working on that. I think maybe what we’ll do next week is bring our top tweet of the week. A single top tweet. I think that will be a good— but listen, again, if you made it this far, thank you so much for listening to us. We’ll be back on Tuesday with our regular interview episode and probably next Friday with a new idea to help you make content that drives revenue for your business. I think that’s it. See you next time.