Episode 69

Unpopular Opinion: You Don’t Have to Act Your Age

with Shamus Madan

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In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Shamus Madan, the 17-year-old Host of the MBIT Podcast. From how to add value to your audience and speak to the next generation, Shamus brings insight beyond his years that you don’t want to miss.

Highlights from the conversation:

  • How Shamus got immersed into the business world (4:52)
  • What drew Shamus to podcasting (13:27)
  • How to get top-level guests on your show (16:08)
  • The next steps in life for Shamus (20:23)
  • The key to viral content (23:54)

 

Links & Resources:

 

Keep up with Shamus:

 

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Transcription

Transcription generated by Otter.ai

Adam Vazquez 0:06
All right, welcome back into Content Is for Closers. We’ve got a great episode for you today with Shamus Madan. Shamus is following a trend. Listen, here on Content Is for Closers, we’re always on the lookout for up-and-coming talent for the uncovered gemstones, if you will. And I just want to brag on us for a second. So we’ve got a few people who have been on the show and gone on to do some incredible things, primarily because they were on this show, we can start with Landon Campbell. He was on the show. And then soon after, got a job with inside.com and is now the GM of drive capital in Chicago. We’ve got Rachel Braun, who came on also when it worked for This Week in Startups soon afterward, of course, Steph Smith, who was basically unknown before she came on this podcast, and then and then when it worked for a16z. I met last week, we had John Sherman from Practical Golf. John was on the show. And then the next week, he won the Club Championship at a pretty prestigious golf course up in the Northeast. I can go on and on. But Carlton, there’s a trend here. Am I wrong?

Carlton Riffel 1:11
Yeah, there obviously is. I’m kind of wondering what’s going to happen with me now. And now that I’ve been on the show for a little bit. I’m just waiting for my big break.

Adam Vazquez 1:19
Yeah, last week about your famous friends. One of them is gonna… Soon you’re gonna be famous yourself.

Carlton Riffel 1:24
Yeah, I think there are some really good things in this episode too. And, and I’m going to hand it to Shamus, because I taught— I’ve mentioned this before, but I taught high school. And it’s kind of rare to see the amount of drives that he has at such a young age. And, but I love it, I absolutely love and respect kids who don’t listen to the idea that you have to do things in normal order for your age, you need to be going just going to high school and playing sports or doing different things. I love the fact that he is really grabbing life by the horns and go on with it.

Adam Vazquez 2:08
What’s so great about Shamus, and I think anyone who’s truly great has these blinders on. There are times in the episode where I kind of tried to allude to what you just talked about. I’m like, how does it go with your friends? Or what do they think? Or do you have other friends? Who are who are doing this with you? And it didn’t even faze him to say like, oh, no, my friends think it’s weird, or whatever. He’s just like, well, my tests are and my objectives are these. And so that’s what I’m going to do. And hopefully, eventually other people will probably figure out they want some money. And it’s pretty cool to see somebody who’s so driven, like you said in such a unique way, like there are kids who are dealing with sports or whatever. But Shamus is focused on his career as eventually an investor as a content creator. And he’s doing a great job with the MBIT podcast along the way. So yeah, we got into a lot of that. We talked about how he’s building his brand, how he’s getting access to some of the people that he’s interviewing, which is crazy, for his age and for where he is, in the stage of his career. The fact that he even is like, I don’t even think I used the word career when I was until I was like in my 20s. So it’s just insane, what he’s done. It was pretty cool.

Carlton Riffel 3:24
That’s great. Let’s jump into the episode.

Intro 3:29
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 3:55
Alright, we’ll get back into Content Is for Closers. We’ve got Shamus Madan here, the host of The MBIT podcast, as well as my favorite and maybe the only high school podcast host that I now know personally. Thank you for joining the show, Shamus.

Shamus Madan 4:11
Yeah, absolutely. It’s a pleasure to come on the show. I look forward to talking more. And thanks for having me.

Adam Vazquez 4:17
Of course. So I feel like we need to start in the obvious place. Most kids your age— When I was your age, I think I still maybe had a dream of trying to be like a low-tier professional athlete somewhere or maybe a sports agent or something like that. I don’t think I had gotten I know I hadn’t gotten fully immersed in the real business world and definitely not the content world when most kids your age are in the summer hanging out plan your recording pods. How did this happen? How did you come into this world?

Shamus Madan 4:51
Yeah, so I think it starts all the way back when I was around nine or 10. I had an interest in technology, specifically Apple technology and in the Summer, I would visit the Apple Store quite frequently, I went to the back of the Genius Bar. And for people waiting, I tried to ask them, what are some of the things that they needed help with to see it was kind of like a challenge to me to see if I could fix their issue before the geniuses. And I think that kind of led to the domino effect into the podcasts and entering the venture capital space. But there was no direct path to that. And then I think the next steps were my dad at the time was building his own startup is called junction education. And I remember it was like, bring your son to work day. So I step into his office. And there were like three large desks and a small window in the left-hand corner. And on my dad’s desk was packed with papers and posts and his screen with filled with tabs and information. And desperate to work there. I thought, hey, this would be really inspiring. So I decided to do some testing, q&a testing for some of the courseware they were building for the street and Jim Cramer, some personal finance and investing courses. I sat there for like an hour straight, just going through, I didn’t want to actually stop doing it because I found it so inspiring to do. But then fast forwarding to I think the age of 12 was when I began investing, I guess same age that Warren Buffett so he started at 12 as well. But so I started doing some long-term investing. I started with Apple, obviously not financial advice or investment advice. But I started doing that started reading books like The Millionaire Next Door, going through videos on personal finance and investing. And then later in high school, I went back to my Apple tech roots and started a phone repair business. I ran that for a few months before COVID hit. And I wanted to start something else. So the COVID pandemic closed all schools, so I had to didn’t have the opportunity to continue doing that. So I decided to start something else. And being inspired by the folks over at Robinhood Snacks. I decided to start my own business techniques podcast and—

Adam Vazquez 6:50
The Best One Yet.

Shamus Madan 6:53
And yeah, so obviously, you know about it The Best One Yet, TBOY. They renamed it now, but it’s a great podcast, like to have short-form content on businesses, for those of you who don’t know. And then I reached out to them and said FEMA, who’s a research analyst with Jim Cramer, I also reached out to who recommended putting some financial insights at the end of the episodes, which was, I think, the beginning of the pivot for the podcast. So I started the podcast on all news in like three or four minutes. And then I noticed I was super competitive. So that’s when I decided to pivot into more insight-based pod. And then from there, I decided to do everything inside. So I would start interviewing people in spaces I was interested in that recently included venture capital, but at the time was startups and business and people developing really cool projects, and everything like that. And then I just work on growing that podcast from there and just meeting more and more people.

Adam Vazquez 7:45
Cool. Few things I want to dig into. First of all, did anyone take you up? Did they let you fix your their computers while they were in line at the Genius Bar?

Shamus Madan 7:52
Yes, I did. I actually do remember, this was one lady that was there. She had an iPhone and it wasn’t turning on. And it was having some glitches. I don’t remember the exact problem. But it was having some glitches. And she was waiting there for a few minutes, I noticed because I was playing with the other technology in the store. So I walked up and said, Hey, I think I can help you with that. So I tried doing some hard resets and stuff that I’ve learned on the internet by myself. And I fixed the problem in like less than a few minutes. And then the genius came over very quickly after I was fixed the problem. He’s like, hey, what do you need help with today? And she’s like, Oh, I’m all good. This kid just fixed it out for me. But thank you. But yeah, that was one interesting and funny story that I remember.

Adam Vazquez 8:33
That’s great. And then you talked about the influence of your dad being a startup founder had on you. He was building a company. What was it? Were there any other things that he did? Whether it be bringing you in, like you mentioned, or incentivizing you to start your own projects or anything like that, that you feel like helped cultivate that, that interest in that desire at such a young age?

Shamus Madan 8:56
Yeah, I think both of my parents had been very encouraging from a young age to always try new things that included any types of sports, from soccer, to basketball, to golf, to any types of projects and events to do, whether that be technology or a whole host of other things. But yeah, my parents had been super inspiring, especially my mom, she’s also did some stuff, and continues to do some stuff, helps people out who were in the 9/11 crisis as well, in terms of lungs and whatnot. I don’t know the exact stuff because I’m not in medical field. But yeah, and then my dad, I think, I noticed when he would travel to and from the city, he’d be wearing a suit and tie. And I thought it’d be super cool to just be in that business field being that hustle. And I wanted to be a part of that culture and be with him doing that. So I think that I found super inspiring. I wanted to jump into the work field as soon as I possibly could. I remember telling my parents and they’re like, Oh, you’re gonna miss being a kid. And like, I want to do it now though. But yeah, I think that was a couple of the things that have been very inspiring.

Adam Vazquez 9:56
So you’re a golfer? Are you a golfer now?

Shamus Madan 9:58
Yeah, I do play some Golf I’ve played in some, I think these things called TGA championships and we play a golf round with a foursome, four or five people. I did that a few years ago back for five years, I believe I won six consecutive trophies. So first and second, I’ll leave. And I think one of my favorite stories was probably not the time when I went first, but probably second. And I want second. And that’s because so we’re in a group of four people. And it was my favorite, because at the beginning, and in the beginning to mid of the season, I believe it was the spring, we were all the way at last place that of all the other groups and competitors. And we’re like it and at that point is statistically impossible to reach first place. But we’re like, hey, we can get this done. So I decided to try to take the lead with the team and try to work with them on some of the other skills and some of the younger folks there on how to read the greens and how to try to get a good lie on the golf ball, and the rough and the different parts of the golf course. And hopefully to try to help improve everybody’s skills on the team, build some team-building communication and leadership so that we can all work together to try to get to that place and just have a good time while we’re doing it. And we continued to do that continue to try to improve, we actually ended up getting, as I mentioned before, like second place in that. And I think that was a really good team-building activity that we enjoyed doing. But yeah, it was fun. I continue to play golf today, especially with my dad every once in a while over in the summer as well, especially. And it’s super fun sport that I enjoy doing.

Adam Vazquez 11:33
Yeah, that’s awesome. I wish I would have picked it up younger I was into the more just normal basketball, baseball, etcetera. But I’ve picked it up now. And you can see our bullet I’ve always got some type of club with me to try to improve over time. But it’s a fun sport and reminds me a lot of business in a lot of ways.

Last question here from kind of your background that you shared with us. You mentioned Warren Buffett, you talked about starting at his age. Was that intentional? Is that somebody that you specifically, I mean, everybody looks up to him, but is that somebody that you specifically resonate with in some way or some part of his story just has connected with you?

Shamus Madan 12:14
Yeah, I noticed he would start— So when I was reading a little bit about his story and from what I remember, he would start reading investing books and personal finance books, I believe, from 11 or 12 years old. And I thought that was super inspiring, especially where he’s at today to be able to get to that level from a young age. And he didn’t come from a wealthy background or anything like that. So I thought it was cool to be able to go from like ground zero and build your way up to success. And I didn’t intentionally start at 12. But I did recognize that, hey, I’m now around the same age as Warren Buffett, when he started investing, it would be really cool part of my story, to start at 12 and say that, I think the number one thing that I wanted to start investing with as well. The reason why Apple obviously I was super passionate about it, but I thought it was super cool to own part of a company. And I tried to use it as more like a little bit of a brag. So like sometimes when we go to the Apple Store, I’d tried to calculate The math on how much of the store I owned and say, Hey, I own this amount of the store. Obviously, I don’t think it was very accurate. But it was kind of funny is something that was really cool. Because I was inspired by Apple like growing up and their products. And yeah, I think that’s where it all started.

Adam Vazquez 13:23
That’s so fun. So fast forwarding to today, you obviously kind of mentioned you started your podcast during COVID. But why specifically, did you start your podcast? I think you could have— especially it’s curious someone your age, I feel like the gut intuition a lot of times would have been to go all in on Instagram or YouTube or and you might be doing those things as well. But you see less young pot like very young podcasters. And so I’m just curious, what drew you to the medium? And kind of why did you decide to kick off that show?

Shamus Madan 13:57
Yeah, good question. So I think I’ve always been very vocal about opinions and stuff that I’ve been learning from a very young age. And I’m always curious about learning new things. And when it came to learning new things from other people, I thought, yeah, I could technically do that through a blog and try to do some texts and try to email them questions and have them send it back. But I thought podcasting was the best medium to do so and the best medium to get engaged with people farther along in their journey. You mentioned Instagram. So for example, Instagram at the time when I started, it was mainly there. I don’t believe Instagram reels was this big back then. So it’s mainly just photos of people enjoying their lives or whatever. And I thought to try that I had a lot of perspectives. And I took a micro and macroeconomics course that was learning about personal finance and Instagram. I could have a couple of graphics but I wanted to get really deep in there. I remember when I did some an analyzation of the Gamestop uproar, and I spent like hours doing research on it and how it affected the market dynamics in the future. And I think the best way to have done that would be there’d be through YouTube videos, or through podcasting. And at the time, I decided podcasting would be the best and most enjoyable way, especially since I’ve listened to podcasts like the Robin Hood snack podcast before. And I thought it was a pretty cool way to start my journey. But yeah, I think that’s where it all started.

Adam Vazquez 15:17
What’s unique about your show is (A) I would say the subject matter from a younger voice. So I feel like the analysis is something that’s very you digested for the audience, and then you give it in a way that is understandable and relatable for most people, TBOY-esque in ways there. And then the other thing that I think is, is really unique about it is just your guest list. You don’t miss when it comes to getting a list types of guests on there. And I would imagine that’s a huge benefit for having the show and building out your network and building out your future network. But talk a little bit about that. Tell us about how you get these guests, what do you what are you doing that’s so impactful when you’re building your show because a lot of people try and are not able to get guests like you have been able to?

Shamus Madan 16:07
Yeah, good question. So I actually started out trying to reach with top level guests, and I reached out to Mark Cuban he declined to do an interview I reached out to some of the other big people in the business space I’ve looked up to who are very wealthy are very far accomplished in their careers. And I don’t think I heard a response back from a single one of them, I reached out to like 20 or 50 people, didn’t get a single response, nothing. So then I started doing some research on other podcasts and other guests. And I tried to figure out, why are the guests coming onto their show instead of this one? And I realized pretty quickly that that show has built an audience and is providing value to them. So for example, if it’s an entrepreneur building a new startup, they could start advertising it or bringing the startup on what they’re doing on that show to an audience, right, and try to advertise it that way. And then I’m like, Okay, so now I have to figure out a way to provide value. So I thought, considering the age I was that which I believe it was 15, 16 at the time, the best way to provide value in the most unique way from other the other 850,000 podcasts out there is to do it from a young next generation perspective. So it for people who wanted to reach the next generation, have their topics have their views and what they’ve learned to reach the next generation inspire the next generation, this will be the perfect place to do that. And everyone who’s very successful always was young at some point. So they always have some sort of feel of what it was like to be a young hustler and stuff like that. So I decided, hey, this is a great place to try to reach that next generation. So I started trying to reach out to people who are very early on. So very early startups, who are just starting out, doing some pretty interesting stuff. And then I started having them on the podcast. And then using their names and the other brands that they’ve developed to reach out to people higher up on the list. And I just kept climbing and climbing, climbing until I reach people like Tim Draper and Mark Cuban and Spencer Rascoff. To go through that. But I think the number one thing is just to provide value to an audience that’s new and hasn’t been sought before. Like, for example, I think Mark Cuban when he was doing cost plus and currently is doing cost plus, which makes affordable medications. The value add to him was for the podcast was growing pretty quickly, the brand was going pretty quickly. And he was able to reach the next generation on the issues with the Medicare system. Like I don’t know how many people in my school are reading Forbes in New York Times that often. So it was a great opportunity for him to reach that next generation, along with a lot of other VCs or startup founders who are very far in their journey to help inspire that next generation. In terms of the MBIT podcast, that was the value add there, but I think for every podcast it’s different and I think you’ve just got to find your niche and what you’re able to have value other than the other podcasts out there.

Adam Vazquez 19:03
Yeah, incredible. You mentioned your school there. Do you have any other friends who are aware of what you’re doing? Or do they want to be a part of what you’re building?

Shamus Madan 19:14
Yeah, so I do have friends that know what I’ve done. I am doing and currently doing and they find it super cool and inspiring and stuff like that. But they’re pretty much on their own path. And pretty much everybody in high school is trying to figure out their own thing and trying to do their own thing. So I don’t know if they necessarily are interested in being a part of it. But they definitely do find it kind of…

Adam Vazquez 19:35
Yeah, it’s cool. It’s just such a different path. We had a similar sort of, I was part of a chess club, which I don’t I haven’t talked about a ton but the equation of people who are in that chess club to people who went on and graduated college and got good jobs out of our little high school there was very high especially compared to the rest of the students. And I could imagine if you ever started or were a part of some type of high school business organization that would probably have a very high correlation higher than my chess club. So I was just curious. We’ll have maybe you’ll start one. And then we’ll look back and be like, hey, every one of these tech companies always in Sheamus is tech clover, or was part of a podcast enough? So you’re doing this now? What grade are you in currently?

Shamus Madan 20:24
Currently in 12th grade? Yeah, going into 12th.

Adam Vazquez 20:26
12th grade. Okay, so last year of high school, next steps in life, whatever they look like, are coming pretty quickly. What’s your goal, specifically for the podcast? And then for your career on the whole? How do you plan on leveraging this as you move forward?

Shamus Madan 20:41
Yeah, so for the podcast, my goal is just to impact as many people’s lives as possible at scale. So at first started doing it with around eight or 10 listeners, and now it’s a few 1000. But to keep growing that and keep impacting people’s lives at scale. So I think to continue for the podcast side to continue out that growth journey. Take advantage of other mediums, for example, I know YouTube shorts has been growing super quickly. So I have not taken advantage of that as much as I could. So I’m gonna start taking advantage of platforms like those to I mean, that for the next generation hanging out, so it’s a perfect place to help with that growth journey as well. And yeah, so I think and then, in terms of career goals, I think, I’m a venture Fellow at Blitzscaling ventures, they’re backed by the co-founder of LinkedIn. So I found venture capital to be something pretty interesting as well, to be able to back founders who are working to change the world and make impact, as well on the community, on local communities, on international communities, etc. So I think my career path, hopefully, I don’t know exactly what it is, but I do know probably be whether it be diving in deeper into venture capital and either being part full time of a VC firm along with the podcast as well, continuing to bring brand build out that brand. And then or it could be starting a startup and or something like that. But I think it would definitely still be in that VC startup area.

Adam Vazquez 22:08
Very cool. Are you planning on doing any more school when you finish high school?

Shamus Madan 22:13
Yeah, I do. I plan to go to school as well. And hopefully, also interested in business school, as I think it’s really important, especially if you’re a VC and if you decide to invest in late-stage companies, it could be very important to understand like operational strategy and the in-depth of a business and how to make it more efficient, especially when providing guidance to either late stage founders who this might be their first company, or whatever it might be. So I think, definitely going through school and continuing that into business school would be a valuable into my career.

Adam Vazquez 22:49
You have to have one of the great entrance letters, or whatever they call those things. Just list your guests. Like, listen, this is what I’ve built, this is what I’ve done, like, you should be getting your business school is going to get better awareness by having me as part of the student body and my podcast there then than it would otherwise I think you got a leg up there.

So as we’re kind of coming to the end here. What trends— you mentioned YouTube shorts, you’ve done a lot of podcasts, you’ve done a lot of stuff in the VC space. What are you excited about right now? What is something that you have, from your perspective that like the 45-year-old marketing manager may not be paying attention to or may not have noticed that you think is a trend or something that businesses can take advantage of when it comes to content?

Shamus Madan 23:40
Yeah, so in terms of content, now, I don’t know what these marketing managers do. I’m not to pick on what they do. So I wouldn’t be able to give them advice on what they should be doing. But anyway, I think one thing that is super important, and I was reading Jonah Berger’s book from Wharton. He is a professor of marketing over at Wharton. And I think storytelling can be super important and valuable, especially in marketing, and especially doing that in either TikToks or YouTube shorts or Instagram reels or whatever platform that might be. But being able to tell stories increases engagement. So if you start off with a quick little hook that asks a question. I know one media brand does this very well. It’s called Our Future by Michael Sikand. And I’ve talked to him I’ve had conversations with him. He’s a great guy. And he’s built the brand to over 350,000 YouTube shorts, YouTube subscribers, and he’s done that all through YouTube shorts. And in the beginning, one of the things I’ve noticed is he’ll have a statement and in that statement, you end up subconsciously asking yourself, How did that happen? Or how could they have gotten to that level that makes you want to watch the rest of the 30-second video. So I think that’s going to be super important to make sure we not just develop basic hooks that just ask a question. But develop creative ones that make the listener ask themselves a question that make them want to listen to the rest of the video or content or whatever it might be.

Another thing that I found it pretty important, especially in the short form content is making sure the video changes quite frequently. And there’s always something going on so that the listener doesn’t diverge or keep scrolling, because very easily, they only have to move their finger like two or three inches, and they’re no longer watching your video. I think Jimmy from Mr. Beast has done this very well. His editor, sometimes I was watching a podcast they go through, it takes over a week to go through just one of these 30-second YouTube shorts. That’s because if you see the amount of things happening in just one second, it’s like five or six things happening in a second. And it keeps the listener so far engaged, because they’re always trying to continue to watch what’s the next thing happening, what’s the next thing is happening? There are enough things going on that doesn’t make them last in the future.

I think that’s going to be really important: keeping the listener engaged through creative hooks that are not just questions, but making the listeners ask questions, and then just making sure that content tells a story. Yeah, I think that that would pretty much be the two big things.

Adam Vazquez 26:18
What was the name of the creator you said that does the shorts?

Shamus Madan 26:22
Yeah, Michael Sikand. I can connect you with him if you want. But yeah, Michael Sikand from Our Future.

Adam Vazquez 26:28
Yeah, we should. I will link that in the show notes below for anyone who wants to see those. You said 350,000 just on shorts.

Shamus Madan 26:35
Yeah, just on short. And I think he’s got over 100-200,000 on TikTok. He’s got multiple different verticals. These guys like our future stories. He’s now building our future finance. And he’s really just Blitzscaling or moving it really quickly. Yeah.

Adam Vazquez 26:50
Yeah, that’s cool. Shamus, we really appreciate you coming on sharing your story. It is awesome to see someone who is pursuing their passion as aggressively as you are. And we’re all going to be continuing to follow your story in your journey as you work through the next several years. If people want to hear your show or follow you, what’s the best way for them to get connected with all the things that you’re doing?

Shamus Madan 27:11
Yeah, absolutely. So my website is just mbitpodcast.com. Or if you’re interested in just checking out the podcast you can just search up MBITpodcast on pretty much any podcast player. It’s on Apple podcast, Spotify, and YouTube. I also have MBIT shorts on YouTube. And I’m also on Twitter @mbitpodcast. My name, Shamus Madan, but the handle is @mbitpodcast. And you can pretty much find all those interviews and all the content I’m doing pretty much all through that platforms to hear next generation guests like for example, Tim Draper, Mark Cuban, I recently had the former board member of Goldman Sachs and target and CEO of Medtronic on the podcast to hear those types of interviews for the next generation, if you’re interested. Feel free to check it out.

Adam Vazquez 27:54
Medtronic, that’s one of mine. Like, you own Apple stores. I own Medtronic. So let’s go here. How am I ownerships doing? Awesome. Well, we appreciate you coming on Shamus. And hopefully we’ll stay connected. Talk to you soon.

Shamus Madan 28:06
Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks for bringing me on. It was great conversation.

Carlton Riffel 28:09
And that’s a wrap. Thank you for listening to this episode of Content Is for Closers. We hope you find this show really helpful as you grow your business with content. Maybe you know of other people who would find this show helpful as well. How about you send them our way? If you didn’t like this show and you want to tell us that, then you can head over to contentisforclosers.com where you can send us a message, give us some feedback, ask questions, or find detailed notes for every episode. Until next time, keep creating and keep closing.