In this episode, Adam and Carlton are joined by Keith Hernandez, founder and partner of Launch Angle. Keith talks about where to start your content machine, how to build while working a full-time job, and the question to ask when you figure out if building a content platform is right for your business.
Highlights from the conversation:
Keep up with Keith:
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Transcription generated by Otter.ai
Adam Vazquez 0:06
On this episode, we’re joined by Keith Hernandez, Founder of Launch Angle, Host of the ChangeUp Podcast and not the Hall of Fame New York Met, although he is a fan of his namesake.
Despite his Mets fandom, Keith and I had a great conversation. We talked about the lessons he learned building content platforms at Bleacher Report and Buzzfeed, Keith shares his process for identifying where to start your content machine, how to build while working a full-time job, and the question to ask when you figure out if building a content platform is right for your business.
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation. I think you will, too. Let’s dive into this episode with Keith Hernandez.
Adam Vazquez 1:10
Alright, we’re back yet again to the many faces of Carlton Riffel. Let me say this to kick it off, if you don’t check out the YouTube occasionally, I highly— I was gonna say guarantee. That’s not the right word. I highly recommend, just to check out what Carlton’s got going on. There’s always something different. What’s going on, Carlton? How you doing?
Carlton Riffel 1:29
Oh, pretty good. I just thought I’d try to get you smiling on this nice afternoon. It’s a little warm in my loft, I gotta admit. I just refused to turn the air on today.
Adam Vazquez 1:42
Have you had any other self-torture? Last week you were embedding ticks in your stomach, this week it’s like a sweatshop. What’s going on?
Carlton Riffel 1:49
I’m going to do some stump grinding this weekend, so looking forward to that. I might make it over to Derek’s house and grind some of his stumps.
Adam Vazquez 1:57
Good for you. Speaking of, you asked about things that are exciting. One thing I have to just say right off the top here, I was looking at our show analytics and one thing I’m very excited about is whoever the 100 or so listens over the last couple of weeks that are coming from down under, mate.
Carlton Riffel 2:19
Mm, we’ve got— Got? I’ll try it but then I’ll end up in a British accent.
Adam Vazquez 2:23
It went sideways quick, but we’ve got some people now, some Aussies in the house, and let me say this: if you’re listening to this episode, I would love to literally hear from you. Please email me (email@example.com). I would love to know who you are or what you do, how you discovered this show. I was just looking at it and I was like, what in the world? I mean, I’m super happy that you’re here.
Carlton Riffel 2:48
If they have a pet Kangaroo.
Adam Vazquez 2:51
Right. Exactly. Just so many questions but mainly just would love to have you. Listen, Aussies have the coolest accent in the world, so you could literally do any job and I would love to have you on the show.
Carlton Riffel 3:07
Standing invite to all of our Australian friends. Are you alright?
Adam Vazquez 3:13
Yeah, my light just fell. Again, another reason to watch the YouTube. Alright, so the Aussie—
Carlton Riffel 3:21
You need to have Jim, too.
Adam Vazquez 3:23
Oh, that’s true. We do need to have Jim as well. We do need to bring you the international component to it. Speaking of international, anywhere you are in this entire world, you can be a part of the community by leaving us a five-star review. We just crossed over 70 last week on our way to 100. Each week I am featuring a new one so right before we get to the episode with Keith, got to talk to you about this one.
It comes from Anna. The title is “Actionable. Helpful. Look at all kinds of content.” Five stars. “This podcast features so many different kinds of entrepreneurs and business owners who have reached success in different ways and with different backgrounds. I always tune in for actionable tips that you can take away to grow your business. The hosts are exceptional—” I mean, thank you. That’s why we read these. “…and ask smart questions. They seem to have a great rapport with the guests on the show. This is one of the only must-listen-to podcasts on my list and I’ll never miss an episode.”
Thank you, Anna, for that five-star review. If you haven’t left a five-star review yet and you’re listening to this, you hear the sound of my voice, please go do so right now. We read them all and you can say whatever you want in them.
Carlton Riffel 4:35
You can be famous like Anna.
Adam Vazquez 4:37
We are libertarians. So, Carlton, you heard the episode with Keith. What were your thoughts?
Carlton Riffel 4:44
So another good episode. Great interviews lately, Adam. And I think he’s had a lot of experience he was at a lot of he’s been at several different companies that most people have heard of. So. Yeah, but he started at BuzzFeed. So a lot of interesting things. Air that I think people will be interested to hear from. But specifically, what I thought was most intriguing is he brought up this idea of a personal brand and developing a personal brand. And I think there are some people that are like, that doesn’t apply to me, because I’m not trying to do personal brand, I’m marketing for my company, right. But that still is applicable to them, for the reason that personal brands can be so successful. And that’s mainly because it’s a relationship that viewers develop with the person presenting that content. When they spend time with that person, when they hear them give good advice and take their advice, and it works, that bolsters that relationship with that person and that person then transfers it or relates it to a brand. So even if you’re in marketing for a company doing in-house marketing, or maybe for other companies as well, I think there’s still a lot of application there because people don’t have relationships with just companies, they have it with other people. And that’s, I think, the big takeaway that you can apply from what he talks about. And some of the other finer points that he brings was just thinking about it in the context of developing relationships through content.
Adam Vazquez 6:10
Yeah, I thought his thesis of being even if you are employed, somewhere that isn’t your name industries, being a company of one thing you have yourself as a company of one and creating advertising content, whatever communication, as that company of one for your customers, for your audience, and then leveraging those different ways was really, really important. And it’s something that has kind of become normalized, I would say, for especially people who are like 28, and under, it’s just how they operate. But, but for people who are above that, even, there’s a huge opportunity, it went when you’re able to sort of consolidate and become consistent with the areas that you create, with, create within establishing those relationships, whether that be for your job, or for something else, and really making authentic connections with people. And then Keith goes into how you can use those connections, what those can build out and everything else along with it. So yeah, really, really impactful. I loved his gist. Well, first of all, Keith Hernandez, and I get into this, but like, very famous Hall of Fame baseball player, the reoccurring character on Seinfeld, so there was a lot of just fun stuff around that. It’s cool to see how he has leveraged the fact that that’s his name. In all of his branding. He uses a baseball term for his business. His podcast is named after a baseball pitch. He’s really just leaned into that and it’s pretty funny to see given where his career’s gone.
Carlton Riffel 7:43
I think that’s good, man. Let’s jump into the episode.
Adam Vazquez 7:56
All right, we’ve got Keith Hernandez from Launch Angle here on the podcast. So excited to have you, Keith. And I can’t, as a fan of baseball, as a fan of Seinfeld, as a fan of view, I have to start off that most obvious place, which came first your love of baseball, or your awareness of Hall of Famer Keith Hernandez, which of those came first?
Keith Hernandez 8:19
It happened probably right around the same time. I’m gonna age myself with this answer. I was five years old. 1986. The Mets were running New York City running the town and I grew up right outside of New York City in White Plains, New York. And it’s really hard not to become a fan of a team where the captain and the leaders has your exact name. Didn’t hurt that I look I guess a little like him. So yeah, no, sure. People in White Plains thought that I was related either his nephew or something like that. So yeah, and I just always it’s one of those things where I wonder how different my life would be if my name was Don Mattingly? Or Tino Martinez, because it’s at five years old, it was World Championship and I was probably like, at five years old is like, Oh, this is cool. This is gonna happen every year and I don’t think they’ve been close, but they haven’t had anything ever since.
Yeah, so I see the LA, but are do you stick with the Mets now?
100% Mets. Yeah, so this is a LA Taco hat. It’s Los Angeles website and I bought it in rocket because they’re a great site, but then it’s also the initials for my company Launch Angle. So I was like, okay, cool. Very sneaky. I was like, let me see what their merch looks like and how they put together snapbacks as I start know that some of that merchandising stuff as well, but yeah, tried and true, like thick and thin, New York Mets fan for sure.
Adam Vazquez 9:37
Yep. Well, I’m a Phillies guy, so we’re both— You guys actually have some hope. We’re somehow two weeks into the season’s looking bleak, but anyways, it’s not a baseball pod, unfortunately.
Keith Hernandez 9:48
We can make it one.
Adam Vazquez 9:49
You mentioned Launch Angle there and sort of your personal evolution. Maybe you could just give us a quick overview. I know there’s a lot there between being at BuzzFeed in the early days and kind of how that transitioned you to where you are and what you’re doing now.
Keith Hernandez 10:06
Got into advertising sales like most people, by accident. When I was five years old, six years old, I had no idea that this was an actual role that somebody can do, which is like, go out there and have conversations with people about brand partnerships. The through-line through my entire career was working with companies that I just believed in their editorial and believed in their mission and their vision of creating great original work. And so I’ve always been, I say, like, the biggest cheerleader in that. And where that really kind of came to fruition was at BuzzFeed, right? BuzzFeed was at the time when I joined, there was early 2012, a very small company under 100. It still is known for its Katniss listicles. But at the time, Ben Smith hadn’t even started yet. And we were really selling this dream that advertising can be better content can be better, you can work with us. And we can create something that not only people will click on, but people will laugh and enjoy and actually share with their friends. Right? Like, can you imagine a world where we’re saying this 2012 10 years ago, were people actually aren’t interrupted with advertising, they’re actually seeking it out because we’re creating it in such a way. And that stuck with me, right? Like that ethos has stuck with me for everything else that I’ve done in my career, because I really believe it, right, like advertising doesn’t have to stink, it doesn’t have to be annoying. It doesn’t have to be intrusive, it can be a lot of fun. And we’re really seeing that evolution happen now with influencers on TikTok, and Snapchat, creating like a completely different vibe for how advertising is and how people connect with advertising. So that three-line was there. My last kind of full-time job before starting Launch Angle, was that Bleacher Report helping them build out the branded content studio there. When I when I joined, they had a branded content team, but they hadn’t really figured out the science to what’s going to work for them. And we kind of built this idea around the intersection of sports and culture, right? Like, the sports fan doesn’t necessarily like you and I are old school we like we love our Phillies and we love our mats, but like the younger fan is going to follow Kyrie Irving. anywhere he goes, right younger fan is going to is more interested in what LeBron James next move is off the court, as well as what he’s doing on the court. And so we started create that branded content studio in that realm and it really started to take off.
Adam Vazquez 12:23
Yeah, just as a sports fan, that is such a unique or novel or non-obvious concept to me. If you grew up in a city, I feel like if you grew up in even just a region that had a team, you followed them through everything. And now that people are transient, like you said that the players obviously move around so much. That’s changed. But I think what you all were able to do at BuzzFeed, and then what you’ve continued to do is use those cultural moments to build owned media, as opposed to the sports teams that I grew up with you follow the inquiry, follow the Daily News, whatever, they’re always renting or borrowing attention on behalf of the city’s team, what you all did was made a destination regardless of the team, regardless of the athlete even right, that was interesting. So what went into that thinking of making this a destination? And then how do you apply that to the people that you work with now?
Keith Hernandez 13:24
This is an insight that was found before I started at Bleacher Report, I’ll give some credit to people like Doug Bernstein. One of the founders, Dave, for Nokia, started to notice that when we were young, you had to watch ESPN, sometimes twice to get the highlights for your team, right? Like, you might have missed them, right? Like if you, if you log like put on your TV at 11 o’clock, or 1104, they might have shown the Phillies Mets highlight at 1102. And you just watch it half an hour. Got nothing. Right? So that’s how we grew. That was frustrating. Yeah, now you can get, you can get the scores in the stats anywhere, right? Like at the touch of a phone, you can get any of that stuff. And so what the insight that those folks had was, we don’t need to be the scores. And in the standings, what we need to do is the stories beyond these athletes like Pete, we’re noticing people are caring more about the Instagram handles and the Twitter handles of these athletes and these celebrities and these business partners. And so what we should do is really cater towards that right? We’ll let ESPN own the scores and the highlights and we’ll come in with kind of the fun interesting facts about these players so that you can kind of develop more camaraderie and more kinship towards the athletes and we did see exactly what you mentioned. When we start to look at the analytics of our audience, we were seeing people were more interested in following the players than the teams. People would get jerseys right like there’s a great there’s one of my favorite like, Kyrie I talked about a lot because he makes you talk about them a lot. But there’s a picture of him like in Utah, and there’s like five kids with Kyrie jerseys waiting for him to sign things and it’s like Utah has a team, the jazz, good, why did this Why did these kids love Kyrie but in Steph Curry was another great example right Steph Curry became this universal player. And we just started to see that and we started to see that with engagement, we started to test out putting things on social that were more athlete-driven versus Team Driven. And it was just getting so much more response. So many more conversations were happening, so much more sharing was happening. And so they looked at that and said, oh, we really hit on something here. This makes sense.
Adam Vazquez 15:26
So then how does that translate to the non-sports realm? Because I think there’s a lot of people who are still creating within sports are not, or athletes, obviously, who are launching their own platforms, but there’s a lot of people who are not who might be starting a brand or creating a media platform. What is the thinking like when it’s not just centered around an athletic personality?
Keith Hernandez 15:51
The same thing that is happening with athletes is happening with all of us, which is this notion that your daytime job—for athletes, that’s the two and a half hours on the court, or the four hours that they’re on the baseball field—is just a sliver of who you actually are. And that there’s an opportunity to share more and to have a deeper conversation, and to do more. The athletes have gone from being just athletes and just being on the court and we don’t know anything about them to now being their own brands to this next evolution to being their own businesses that are investing in things. And so, what we’re seeing is that’s also happening with individuals and collectives and influencers, right? What we’re seeing is a lot of people realizing that, okay, my nine-to-five job is, I’m at Goldman Sachs. Let’s use Goldman Sachs is the fundament, I’m at Goldman Sachs. But I’m the CEO of Goldman Sachs. I also deejay, right? Like he was headlining Coachella, I also DJ, I also have an Instagram handle. And what we’re starting to see is like, this blending of everything, where the boundaries, and the lines have kind of been blurred, so that we all can become brands ourselves. And eventually, I think that leads to the next part, we all will become our own businesses, right, like, and we’re starting to see that with a lot of people as they’ve grown their brand personality and grown their own kind of external forces, they’ve been able to turn that into a business and make money off it.
Adam Vazquez 17:14
Yeah, just as a sidebar I just saw after the recording this middle the first round of the NBA playoffs after the Sixers game last night, the all over Twitter, there are announcements that James Harden has invested into a beard products brand, right? Yeah. And it’s like, man, it’s such a unique cultural moment where, obviously there’s a ton of attention on him and on the team. And I’m sure he’s focused on the game or whatever. But his team is working and ready. So that right when the moment that everyone is online, or watching the game, they know, to make an announcement to leverage that about the thing that he’s known for his iconic beard, it’s just like all of this mesh of not just his play on the court to your point, but his beard now his businesses interest and all these different things that whatever, even 10 years ago, I think probably would have been looked down on frankly, like, obviously, we’ll make a business announcement during the playoffs would have been thought of as like you’re not focused. Now. It didn’t even make a ripple in terms of like, nobody would have thought that it was all positive, the feedback, but I’m wondering if that will eventually translate to the workforce, like you mentioned, Goldman Sachs. Obviously, if you’re CEO of Goldman Sachs, you do whatever you want. But if you’re a marketing manager at Apple and then you have this a YouTube series, I think there can be at times a little bit of a, is he committed? Is she focused like, these types of ideas? Are you seeing that? Or is that even a concern?
Keith Hernandez 18:46
Yeah, it’s funny, because I’ve talked to a lot of people who are part of Launch Angle as we consult and coach people who are kind of building out their own brands and building out there and things. It is one of those things as funny as it sounds. It’s easier to do if you’re starting a new job, come in and say, hey, by the way, I would love to do this. I would love to be a marketing manager. Just FYI. I have a podcast, I have a YouTube show. I make a little money on the side, on Instagram. That’s part of why I have this LLC. What I found is so many people are able companies now just go Okay, that’s cool. We get it. As long as you juggle everything, especially now that we’re all working from home or right, working different times the day, so long as you get your job done. Let’s do it.
What’s harder as people who try to start that while they’re at that company, their director, marketing manager somewhere, and they kind of go and ask their boss like, Hey, can I want to do this podcast and I’m thinking about doing these things that’s when they get met with a well your performance review. Like I really want you to focus on this. Yeah, so yeah, my advice to people I usually have a much bigger beard is my joke whenever I started a job I would always have like a big bushy beard because like I could have any day. Yeah, right, you can clean-shaven. And yeah. And that’s what I say to people is like, start the thing before you take that job. So then you can kind of use that. Because again, like this, not just like concentration, but like investments, advisories, all of those types of things. It’s a lot easier to come into a new company and say, Hey, I’m doing all these other little things on the side. But of course, I can manage this full-time job, right, start to ask for permission from a job that you’ve already taken. Hey, I want to add on things. So that’s my general advice there.
Adam Vazquez 20:30
So we’ve kind of flirted around it and you’ve mentioned it now, but what is Launch Angle? Great name, by the way. Super sticky. Love it as a baseball guy. But yeah, what is it? Unless it just truly is evaluating players’ swings, which would be the best job ever.
Keith Hernandez 20:44
No, no, yeah, that’s part of it. Let me start with the term “launch angle” and then why it became the company, the term launch angles is essentially a somewhat new baseball term that kind of follows the path of trajectory of the batted ball off the ball off of the bat. Everybody has a different launch angle, right? Like Mike Trout, Lauren jiggles, like 36.5. And Pete Alonzo is like 39 degrees. But the idea there is like, if you find your right launch angle, you find the right way to swing, and knock the ball out of the park, right. And so the business translation of that, why I love that so much for the business world is we’re a creative consultancy that works with brands and publishers and agencies to help them find that next breakthrough moment, that next revenue stream that will help supercharge their business that that next project, that next product, that’s going to help them go there. And so Launch Angle, our whole pitches, listen, there’s no like blueprint that we’re going to follow, there’s no movie that we’re going to replicate from somebody else, your launch angle is going to be completely different than somebody else’s, we’re going to come in and investigate the work with you. And we’re going to make a recommendation based off of that. And then we’re going to do that work with you. Where we’re different from the McKinsey’s in the Boston Consulting is a they have like 1,000s of people and billions in revenue. But like on the day to day, what they usually do is come in with a 40 to 50-page white paper after talking to senior executives, and handed over and say, here’s what we think you should do. It’s usually like fire 20% of your staff, here’s what you think you should do. Best of luck to you, like we’ll follow up with you in a year to see how everything goes, we really see that as the beginning of the work relationship, right, that first couple of months is to investigate what we should do. But when we make the recommendation, we make the record, like that recommendation comes with how we’re going to add value and how we’re going to add input. And that can be as simple as will help you build the go-to-market strategy will help you talk to the right people and hire the right people to make that happen, will help coach and train your current team to better understand the new product. Or we might go out there and help you sell the first couple of deals so that we can get it off the ground and prove it to the C suite that this is worth something investing in. And that really just depends on what the project is what the product is, and the app, the appetite. But that for us is kind of the core responsibility is we’re not going to pitch you on what you should do as a company. If we don’t feel like we can add value on what that would look like.
Adam Vazquez 23:06
Yeah, awesome. I love that, and I love the analogy. I think a lot of a lot of folks get caught in strategy. It’s this ambiguous word and all these things and having someone who can just help you with the plan, but also executed obviously, is ideal. When you’re dealing with it seems like I could be wrong, but at least for our purposes, who is an audience of content marketers, creators, etc, etc. When you’re dealing with someone or a company or an agency, and it’s time, what part of the recommendation is you need to create an own media platform or you need to begin creating a some type of branded content platform? What are some of the steps that you advise people to work through as they’re processing all of that?
Keith Hernandez 23:51
One of the first big ones right off the bat is the commitment level. So many people look at branded content as table stakes, right? Like, we’re publisher, we’re a media company, we should have a branded content studio. And my first question is great, should you like, what’s the commitment level here? Is it something that and it’s really digging in with the leadership team to kind of figure out, do you just want to tell people that you have a brand new content studio and you just want to kind of check a box with is your sales team asking for it? And you don’t necessarily want to do? What’s that commitment level and that investment level to really see this thing through? Unfortunately, what I found is a lot of smaller places, they say they have a branded content studio, and it’s actually just like one person. That’s, unfortunately working 80 hours a week and trying to get as many decks out as possible. And they might have a few freelancers that they call on to kind of help them out. So I asked him pretty real. Like, let’s talk about their commitment level to what’s being built here. Okay, great. You have commitment to it amazing. Like, why now? Do you want this branded content studio? Because again, like so many people, if Motivation is like, well, we heard that there’s big revenue in this. And there’s great opportunity. And it’s like, you need a little bit more like, what’s your voice? What’s your reason and rationale for having a studio? How is your voice? And how is your POV on the marketing world going to differentiate yourself out there because even the best brands, right, like a New York Times and Atlantic Washington Post, like, like, even those big brands have to, like, differentiate in the market and say, This is why we exist versus some of the other ones. And so, again, that table stakes thing, it’s true, like, it’s couple 100 branded content studios out there now, how are you going to create content that’s different? And then we get into the conversations on, usually will, we’re going to do it faster, we’re going to be more agile, we’re going to do a more cost-efficient and unfortunately have to go are you like, how are you going to do that? I’m not trying to be mean to them, I just want to educate them that the branded content and content creation is hard, it may look easy because they’ll see great work out there. And they’ll see big numbers out there. But it’s a really hard craft and a really hard practice. And I just want them to know that it’s not set up the studio, and it’s off to the races, that is a really difficult market. It’s a really competitive market. And the best players are the ones that are deliberate and have a real differentiated point of view, and are not the most cost-efficient or fastest, right? Like there’s can’t be one and two, if you’re out there selling it has to be that differentiated voice.
Adam Vazquez 26:32
Yeah, it’s so interesting because so many of the I would say whatever you would call it branded content studios, or even just the desire to create something like that comes from Oh, we want to be like, the biggest red flag for me is, we want to be the insert media company for this industry. So I don’t want to say the one that comes to my mind, because I know too many examples of it. But so we want to be the whatever the Axios of marketing, we want to be the HBO of supply chain, whatever. And what is often left out of that equation is the unscalable work that’s done at the early stages of those companies, the one I was gonna say I don’t like is we want to be the barstool of whatever. Right. I feel like that gets thrown around so much right now. And well, Barstool was like, pretty whatever on for like, 15 years or something like that. So and took a ton of investments, a ton of man-hours, so yeah, that why behind it and the differentiators to your is so so important.
Keith Hernandez 27:35
The shortcut. So many companies want to kind of create that shortcut because I wrote it down when you said HBO was like, it took HBO 10 years to become the HBO that we know, right? It took Yeah, I think they were around 89, 90 and then it was It wasn’t till 9899 when Sex in the City and Sopranos actually hit that they became known as a prestige cable company, right? That if you went on there, it was Def Comedy Jam. It was like all these shows that were shot really cheaply and with shakey cams that other networks didn’t necessarily want and when they hit it was it was when they found those shows and they started to find their content voice, Riley started to kind of understand who they are, and barstools the same way, right, like, don’t love their content, but like, I appreciate their businessman, like seeing some of their numbers. They know how to monetize what they got. And they know how to figure out how to reach that audience. And they know how to continue to create like they have such a good system of farming, of like farming their talent into superstars, and like, that’s what people should emulate and look at.
Adam Vazquez 28:40
Their style is still to some degree shakey cam, raw whatever, which makes it seem less than thought through, but it’s not. There’s a reason to what they do and the controvert, all of it. And so I think a lot of that gets left out when folks are like, well, let me dive in.
So Keith, one question I’ve have is you talk about the individual mixing their professional life, their creative pursuits, and then in the sense of an athlete, potentially monetizing that or having a business component to that. Have you given consideration to Web3? Have you studied that? How does that play into the mix of what you recommend?
Keith Hernandez 29:21
Yeah, I’m cautiously optimistic about Web3. But I’m kind of steering clear of where it is right now and trying to learn, right, I think our art industry, and I think it’s gone a little too overboard. But our industry on the advertising and marketing side, so many people, I think 10, 20, 30 years ago, realized that they were slow to the game and didn’t jump into the new next trend. And they got left behind. So you look back and like, Let’s go all the way back to like when it was just like portals. It was like MSN and Yahoo. And then search came around and Google and Yahoo took over. There are so many companies that were like, “No, no. Our strategy is portals. We’re going to get on portals,” but they lost their company because they didn’t get into search. Then the next thing happened were we did social and now Facebook and Twitter are taking off and so many companies are like, “We don’t need a Facebook page,” “We don’t need a Twitter page,” and they lost out. And so the lesson there, which is right, is you need to embrace the future, you need to embrace these products and learn from them so that you’re not left behind. We’ve seen companies that have lasted for 100 years get left behind because they don’t pick these things up.
However, I think we’ve gone a little overboard where people are jumping into these things way too soon, with too much energy. And, and then it just looks like they’re riding a wave and doing it. So I get concerned, Web3, I see the potential there for things. One of the ways that I’ve kind of started to understand what three that I love is just like, say there’s an indie band that wants to throw a concert, they can kind of put the tickets on the blockchain. And through that, you can potentially get backstage passes through that you can get like a meet and greet. But also you can get like a special NFT ticket. But then you can get invited to other things and start to build a real community of fans, right? Like, that makes a ton of sense to me, that, like a fan club can become decentralized and can kind of start and can kind of build that build this community that way. What I don’t necessarily get right now is eight-bit and FTS. And I’m trying to figure that out in a way that makes sense. And again, the potential there, I think we’re at this kind of like, we’re at this early stage where people are just trying to figure it out. So I’m not gonna, like, knock them for trying to figure it out. And I love that they’re tinkering. But what concerns me is if like a big CPG brands like announces a weird NFT, that’s going to go on West three, that’s going to be part of a Metaverse and you’re like, that’s so much friction, when all you want to do is buy your potato chips. Right? Like, why are you doing all this? So that’s like, when I talk to people about that type of stuff. I A know a lot of people that are experts on it, and I say you should talk to them, they know way more than me. But for me, I’m still learning, I’m still trying to process it, I’m still trying to understand it. And if I were making recommendations to brands, I’d say, slow down on it right now. Because it’s in a very frothy stage, that people are still trying to figure it out, like go, you’re gonna go into it, don’t go into it thinking, well, this is how we’re going to make our next multibillion-dollar product, go into it. And with a, this is interesting, this is fascinating. Let’s be part of the tinkering community that’s trying to figure this out. If you take that approach, you’re gonna you’re going to be much happier. With the end result. If you go into it thinking, you’re going to make millions off of it, you’re probably going to get disappointed.
Adam Vazquez 32:40
Yeah, it reminds me so— Well, first of all, the company that you described, the ticket company, a friend of the show, Harold Hughes, is making that at Bandwagon. That’s what his startup does, so shoutout to Harold.
Keith Hernandez 32:51
Good job, Harold. You got a good idea there.
Adam Vazquez 32:54
It reminds me a little bit of the conversation we just had about creating and content because if you are coming into it with that expectation of how do I start a content studio in order to blow up, or whatever if that’s the expectation, versus how do I experiment in this and see if there are new community ways to extend our community, those are two very different playbooks that you’re gonna you’re gonna follow. So exactly, totally agree with you there.
Hey, I want to tell you a quick story about my friend John. That’s really his name, by the way. I’m not making that up. Anyway, John is someone I look up to immensely and go to when I need advice and the reason I do that is because John has sent me books and articles that have completely changed the way I view my business and finances. The thing is, John didn’t actually work in my business. He never looked at my bank account or sat with me to invest. And he didn’t have to just exposing me to the kinds of things that changed, my thinking was enough. And I’m forever grateful. As because we as humans, give credit to the people who show us new ideas. It’s like getting brownie points without having to do anything aside from sharing. So if you found this show to be valuable, or I’ve ever learned something from this show, please, right now, go open a text and share this episode with someone they’ll thank you all thank you, and you’ll feel great for having helped someone without it costing you a thing. Okay, that’s it. Back to the show.
We’ve talked a lot about kind of the dark side of it. What do you see as the— You know what I mean. What do you see as the upside for folks who are considering launching in diving into creation?
Keith Hernandez 34:30
When you get it right, it is the best feeling in the world and it just carries. I’ll go all the way back to man, this is like 2012 or 2013 at BuzzFeed. We did this thing for Purina like it’s still in my mind because it was so good say Frank who was our head of video. We created these ads were an older cat is showing the young cat around the house and like walking through these things. And there’s a beautiful three-minute branded content video that had the Purina cat food in it, and it got like 10s of million I think it is it up with like 30 or 40 million views of which like, almost all of them are organic. And one of the best parts, it was like the best recruiting tool because there wasn’t one of my clients, which is Google at the time, their VP of Marketing, like wrote this comment and used it in our, in our, in our ad materials afterward. He was like, I know, this is an ad. And I don’t really like cats, but I’ve shared this like 20 times. It was gold, it was absolutely gold. And we like knew we had struck something. And we knew that we were like capturing something in the zeitgeist. So like, that felt like that feeling. I’m always trying to capture again, right of can we create something that everyone knows an ad everyone knows we’re trying to get them to buy something else, but they don’t care. Because it’s so fun. And entertain them in such a fun way. When you do that you’re, you feel like you’re at the top. So like, that’s the best part of it. Right is kind of creating that. And it’s so much more like, I’ve worked in ad sales, my whole career. It’s so much more fun talking creatively to people and kind of getting them excited about different things and to talk about KPIs and analytics and viewability and third-party verification, right? Like, you still need to do all that stuff. But like, I would way rather spend my time talking to somebody about, can we create something fun and interesting that we can show our friends?
Adam Vazquez 36:17
Yeah, it’s just the humanity of story. And everyone wants to tap into that versus— The data matters, of course, but when you can, you can pair the two.
Back to your questions that you set out for folks. Has anyone ever thrown that question setback at you specifically, I’m thinking of the commitment of creation.
Keith Hernandez 36:41
I love that you brought that up. I’ve been wearing this on my sleeve for years, like, Hey, you got to create, you got to put things out there. And I had a client a couple of years ago, say, Well, hey, you’re telling me to do all this stuff. And I don’t see you putting anything out there. Right. Your Instagrams kind of light. Like there are a couple pictures of the last vacation you took, like, You talk a lot of crap on Twitter, okay, but like what else? And I took that as a challenge. And I love those types of challenges. And I was like, You know what? You’re right. I’ve always wanted to do a podcast, I’ve always wanted to create. I’m going to dedicate myself to this. So about a year, about a year ago, yeah, it’s about a year ago, I started to this podcast was like pre-production for like 10 years. But I finally got it up. Because it’s, I realized something was happening in the corporate world where people were leaving their high-powered VP SVP, EVP jobs at major corporations to go start something new, start something fresh, they weren’t going to start another going to get another job. They were saying, I’m ready to be a founder. And they’re doing this during the pandemic, right, like, a time where all of us were scared and completely unsure what the future was going to look like. People were leaving mid-six-figure high six-figure jobs to go, like, work for nothing, right. And I was so fascinated by that. So I started a podcast called the changeup. We’ve done about 40 episodes now. And it’s been really fascinating to me to just learn from these folks, like one of my first interviews was with the CEO of buzzer, Bohan. And Beau and I worked together at Microsoft way back in the day. And I knew a little bit of a story, but it was just so fascinating to me, he left, he was the head of sports partnerships at Twitter. And he left that job in the pandemic and took out the money from his 401k to because he couldn’t find a funder during the pandemic, to pay the salaries of the employees that he had to get this business going. Fast forward now a year and a half later, and he’s raised like $25 million. And he’s off to the races, but that I was so fascinated to kind of learn what his What was it about that idea and that concept, and the conviction to get going now, right? The bravery in that. And so the whole podcast focuses on that. And it’s been fun, because now I can kind of point if somebody does call me out for that and say, Hey, what are you creating? I’m like, Hey, I do this every single week, man check. Yeah, like, I’m actually creating and learning. And it’s been fun, I bet you’re in a similar boat, right? Like, what I really enjoy about the podcast is the research and the understanding and getting to know these guests. But then the kind of nerdy analytics part of me is like, learning the new platforms. Learning the difference between Riverside and same cast are learning about Buzzsprout learning about which transcripting service should I use? How do I create things on Canva? All of that stuff makes me better at my podcasts, but also makes me have a stronger conversation with my potential clients who might want to be using some of these tools right? I can give them my unbiased look at it because I’m saying hey, I’ve tried them all. And here’s what I’ve seen work for me. Here’s what might work for you.
Adam Vazquez 39:45
Yeah, it’s so true. And I’ve been guilty of the talk without action and endpoints in my career too. We start we I left VaynerMedia to come and do this five years ago. And at the time, talk about leaving money. needed to make no money, we were making no money. So I had a lot of time. And that started to show. And I realized over the course of last five years, so I started to show that’s kind of how this whole cycle got going for us, we had guests on that we just had no business talking to etc, etc. And then that kind of created a service line for us. But we got really busy with the service line and servicing customers in the show kind of fell by the wayside. And I’ve realized over the five years that when I am proactively creating when I’m having conversations like this when I’m testing these things, testing distribution methods, like how are we animating little clips to put out onto TikTok, and Twitter, and how are those working against each other versus full episodes, all these little micro tests that you just do naturally, when it’s your thing? It just makes me so much better. Because as a guide to whoever, because I know when I’ve been sitting in their shoes, and it’s this unique thing we have in our industry where we can go try anything that we’re going to advise. It’s pretty cool.
Keith Hernandez 41:02
Yeah. You’re changing from being a professor to a practitioner, right? Like rather than Yeah, you’re just up there trying to teach somebody something, you’re like, No, I’m actually in it with you and trying to dig, dig through this as well. And here’s what I’m finding, let me share some tips. It’s much more fun and way more energy when you can kind of share, like, here’s what works for me, right people go okay, cool. If that’s the way you’re doing it, maybe I should do it that way.
Adam Vazquez 41:24
100%. Well, Keith, I really appreciate you coming on. This has been great. I know we’re kind of at the hidden for time. But just before I let you go, I would love to know just what’s top of mind for you right now. What are you seeing on the cutting edge? What has you really fired up and excited could be just the podcast or anything else that you’re seeing or working on?
Keith Hernandez 41:42
The evolution of audio is so exciting to me and where it’s going right? I think we as practitioners know that YouTube is, like, surprisingly, one of the biggest platforms for podcasts right now. And so so what, what I’m loving right now is the fact that just more and more indie publishers are starting to grow and starting to connect and starting to kind of build out IP right like that. We’ve seen it with like wondery has done this and a few others have done this where it’s like creating IP as a core on audio and turning that into things that live on video, it might be YouTube or Snapchat or TikTok it might be selling it to a paramount plus it might be selling it to a streamer. But looking at that as a the sandbox to start is so exciting to me because for so long, it’s been video. And I think that video leaves some people out and I love the fact that people are experimenting with multiple different mediums. So that’s the one thing that I’m the most excited about.
Adam Vazquez 42:36
Awesome. Cool. This has been so much fun. I’ve learned so much. Really appreciate you walking us through that process of of what to think through when launching for folks who want to keep up with you your show the business. Is there one spot or a couple spots?
Keith Hernandez 42:50
The easiest place is on Twitter @KeithRHernandez. Make sure you put that middle initial R for my middle name Ross. If you go Keith Hernandez, you’ll get Keith Hernandez talking about his cat and baseball. @KeithRHernandez to learn more about the business. I’ll share links to the show there but I’ll also share things about clients and work that we’re up to.
Adam Vazquez 43:12
Awesome. We’ll link that as well. I appreciate having you on and hopefully we’ll catch up soon.
Keith Hernandez 43:17
Awesome. Thank you so much. It was great seeing you.
Carlton Riffel 43:20
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.