Press Play Podcasts and Chase Smith

If you’re like me, you’re always on the hunt for a new podcast to add to your rotation.

The trouble is that sometimes wading through the options can become overwhelming.

Luckily, there is a way to make the search a little less stressful–podcast networks!

If you are a listener, then podcast networks make finding a new show easy by curating quality content and putting it all in one place for you to find.

If you are a content creator, then being part of a podcast network can help increase your revenue and broaden your listener base. And as the podcasting business continues to grow, more and more podcast networks are launching.

Podcasters now are encountering a similar dilemma that bloggers faced a decade ago: as your show gains respectability and audience, how do you decide when’s the right time to join a podcast network? And what are the questions you should be asking for any suitors that come your way?

Podcast networks are looking for podcasts that are up in the tens of thousands of downloads, multiple times over. This is common among the largest podcast networks. Many won’t consider accepting a show unless it has a minimum of 50,000 downloads per episode. Given that most advertisers are chasing scale and buy ads based on CPM, some networks feel it’s not worth their while to take on smaller shows.

My guest found this approach frustrating; there were many podcasts out there, including his, that had managed to achieve a high degree of quality without meeting the 50,000 download threshold. It seemed like there may be an opportunity for a network to target these mid-tier shows.

Chase Smith – coordinates a podcast network called Press Play Podcasts .

Press Play Podcasts and Chase Smith | Convert audio-to-text with Sonix

Brett Johnson:
Well, if you're like me, you're always on the hunt for a new podcast to add to your rotation. Trouble is that sometimes wading through the options can become quite overwhelming. Luckily, there is a way to make the search a little less stressful – podcast networks.

Brett Johnson:
Networks are helpful for both listeners, and content creators alike. If you're a listener, the podcast networks make finding a new show easy by curating quality content, and putting it all in one place for you to find.

Brett Johnson:
Plus, on the other side, if you're a content creator, then being a part of a podcast network can help increase your revenue, and broaden your listener base. As the podcasting business continues to grow, more, and more podcast networks are launching.

Brett Johnson:
Podcasters now are encountering a similar dilemma that bloggers faced about a decade ago. As your show gains respectability, and audience, how do you decide when is the right time to join a podcast network? What are the questions you should be asking for any suitor that comes your way, or if you're approaching that network, what questions should you be asking, ask well?

Brett Johnson:
Podcast networks are looking for podcasts that are up in the tens of thousands of downloads, multiple times over. It's a common thing among the largest podcast networks – many won't consider accepting a show unless it has a minimum of 50,000 downloads per episode. Given that most advertisers are chasing scale, and buy ads based on CPM, some networks feel it's not worth their while to take on smaller shows.

Brett Johnson:
Well, my guest for this episode found this approach frustrating. There are many podcasts out there, including his, that he managed to achieve a high degree of quality without meeting that "gold standard" of the 50,000-download threshold. It seemed like there may be an opportunity for a network to target these mid-tier shows.

Brett Johnson:
With me is Chase Smith. He coordinates, and owns a podcast network called Press Play Podcasts. Right now, it's a network of five podcasts that's available at pressplaypodcasts.com.

Brett Johnson:
I'm going to read a little bit from you the "About" page: "The Press Play Podcast Network exists to empower hosts and create high quality, professional sounding, engaging content for its listeners. At P3, [I love that!] we pride ourselves in helping bring your vision to reality by providing you with the proper tools and support to make your show a success. Whether you're a podcast veteran or diving into the medium for the first time, we will walk alongside you and help you get your show on the air."

Brett Johnson:
Chase, thanks for being a part of the podcast.

Chase Smith:
Brett, thanks for having me on, brother.

Brett Johnson:
Sure! Let's talk about the beginning of this. How did P3 begin?

Chase Smith:
P3 began with my personal podcast, and the Cleveland Browns podcast that I host. I've been all-in on podcasts since 2006, starting from my love with the Cleveland Browns.

Chase Smith:
I was a freshman at Marshall University, in Huntington, West Virginia, and just was jonesing for Cleveland Browns content. What I was getting online just wasn't good enough. I wanted to listen to fans talk about my favorite NFL team. I got on iTunes, and searched "Browns" and "podcasting." I was, like, "What is this?"

Chase Smith:
I was all-in from the very beginning. Just listened to every – I forget the name of this Browns podcast, but it was fantastic. It actually wouldn't be bad today. Gosh, I gotta figure that out. Since then, I started listening to some my favorite writers. They would have a podcast, and just fell in love with it from the very beginning.

Chase Smith:
A couple years ago, we lived in Chicago, and I took classes at Second City, which is a comedy theater at IO, which is another comedy theater.

Chase Smith:
I kind of used my experience working with audio for 10-plus years, speaking in front of people in the writing training that these other theaters offered, and started my own podcast with some of the people that I knew in my own personal network.

Chase Smith:
It was like, "Oh, I could interview this former SNL writer; I could interview the president of this college; I could interview …" I started pulling people that I would want to listen to, and just started talking to them about leadership, life, ministry, sports, whatever – whatever was going on their life. Really, really was received well.

Chase Smith:
August of '17, I just continued with my podcast, and I wanted to do a Cleveland Browns season preview, partly because the Browns podcasts that were offered at the time weren't whetting my appetite. The quality wasn't great. The episodes were like an hour and 45 minutes long. It was just a lot of nothing for a lot of something.

Chase Smith:
I found one of my friends online who I hadn't met – just online person that we communicate with, Jeremy Powell, @JeremyinAkron on Twitter. I said, "Hey, Jeremy, you want to come on my pod? We'll do a Browns season preview?" He was like, "Yeah, we could do that!" He came on, and it just went like gangbusters. We communicated very, very well together. We had a really great repertoire, or rapport … Sorry, not repertoire, rapport … We're like, "What if we was to do this every week?" Like, "Hey, all right, let's do it!" All of a sudden, I'm [crosstalk]

Brett Johnson:
A lot of arm twisting going on there, yeah, right.

Chase Smith:
Right. Well, it went so well, and everyone loved it. I think sports is a really easy podcast to market because the demographic is so clear. You know who is a die-hard Browns fan, whether they label it on their profile, or they post stuff about it, or they like, or retweet, or comment on stuff. They're very easy targeting/marketing there.

Chase Smith:
We started this Browns pod with this desire to … We wanted really high-quality content that's not hours, and hours long. Now, all of a sudden, I had my hands in two podcasts, and I started dreaming. I'm a dreamer, Brett. I dream. I dream. I just think, "Man, I'm super-optimistic and I'm a dreamer.".

Chase Smith:
I was like, "Hmm …" If I have two that I kind of understood how I was able to grow those networks, and grow those shows, and how I record, and how I edit, what would that look like if I had a couple more shows? Maybe if I opened it up to invite other people along in the process? All of a sudden, this idea of a network started to birth itself, and we launched in October of 2018 with five shows.

Chase Smith:
We have the "The Orange Is Oranger Browns Podcast" which is a podcast about the Cleveland Browns. We have "Cavs on the Break Podcast" with Sam Amico. He used to write for Fox Sports Ohio. He's an author – he's actually just finishing his book, I think, last week. We're supposed to record this week, or next week, to talk about that. That's about the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Chase Smith:
We have a Cleveland Indians podcast, "A Swing and a Tribe," which is all about the Cleveland Indians. We have my personal podcast, "The Chase Smith Podcast." We have a college football podcast called "The Tim and Shipe Show," college football podcast.

Chase Smith:
Right now, our current shows do focus around sports, and a lot of Cleveland sports, but we just started … Honestly, Brett, it was a lot of what I love – what do I want to listen to? What interests me?

Brett Johnson:
Sure, sure.

Chase Smith:
It just kind of went from there.

Brett Johnson:
Right. That makes sense.

Chase Smith:
Official launch was October of '18, and, yeah, it's been a good, I guess, six months has it been [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Now it has been. At this recording, we're in April, so yeah, you're right there, exactly. Strategy for growth – obviously, you've put some thought into sports. It's good that we've got all the sports teams covered now in Cleveland … That's good, because there's a cross pollination there. Typically, a Cleveland fan is a Cleveland fan – typically – and I think that's true of most cities, and such. What's the strategy for growth of the network? What's your vision a year from now, five years from now? What's it gonna look like to you?

Chase Smith:
Yeah. Oh, I would love to branch out of sports. I know, right now, a lot of focus is on sports, but, again, Brett. just trying to focus on things that I care about. I love movies, so I can see somewhere down the line having a podcast about movies, or some type of entertainment. I think culture is really important. I think it'd be cool to have a podcast about culture.

Chase Smith:
Actually, Brett, next week we're launching our sixth podcast. It's called "Up Next with Chad and Taylor." This podcast covers all the original content from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, Disney Plus, or Apple Plus, whatever … Whatever streaming content is available, and whatever original content they come out- not network, not cable, like original streaming content.

Chase Smith:
Chad, and Taylor are gonna break these shows down. They're gonna help you decide what should be up next in your queue; how to explain these shows to your grandparents; what they liked; what they didn't like – all these things. If you really, really love "Stranger Things," or any new show … Like, "Aww, man, hey, like why is "Homecoming" getting a lot of … People are talking about "Homecoming," What is that?" You can check it out with this podcast. I mean, "I've never heard of "The Marvelous Miss Maisel." It won some Emmys. What's going on?" Well, hey, we'll talk about it on "Up Next," which I think there's a really huge market for there-

Brett Johnson:
Oh, yeah.

Chase Smith:
Once again, love just consuming media. I think it'd be cool to maybe dip our toes in politics. I don't know … I think the growth is gonna be what I enjoy. What do I wanna listen to? What interests me? Then, people'll come on board, and they're able to communicate their idea.

Chase Smith:
That's the thing, too, with our network, what we wanna do is make it easy for someone who has no idea about podcasts to start a podcast. If they are passionate enough about a topic that they reach out to us, then we wanna be able to come alongside them, and help them with their idea.

Chase Smith:
That's kind of what I guess the next couple of years is gonna look like. You can't predict the future, but I would love to see a podcast about movies, a podcast about culture. We're gonna have a TV 30-minute podcast releasing next week, which is exciting.

Brett Johnson:
When you're looking to expand the network with the different genres that you're talking about, you're talking about podcasts that may exist today, may not exist today, but they will in six months. It could be somebody you know, or it could be someone looking for a network, as well.

Brett Johnson:
Let's say that you found that right one that you wanna bring on. What's your conversation like to them? That they have a podcast that does exist … Then we'll turn it into somebody that doesn't have one yet, and talk to them. Let's go first that have an established podcast. It could be five listeners. I don't care what the number is, but they have one that fits, you like. It's like, "I wanna bring you on." What's that conversation like with them?

Chase Smith:
It's funny, Brett. They're intrigued by the idea of being part of a network. A lot of people don't understand what that is; don't understand what being part of a network can offer. It's kind of like dating. You're just trying to feel the other person out, like, "Well, hey, Chase, tell me about what would happen if I join the network? What does that offer me? What's in it for me, as a podcast, with my show that I've put a bunch of work, and time, and energy, and resources in, like mental capacity, too … What's in it for me?"

Brett Johnson:
They want it to be a two-way street, and so do you, of course; that you get as much benefit from being in the network, as I get from you being part of the network, too.

Chase Smith:
I try to make expectations clear. I don't want them to think that this is gonna be the magic elixir that makes their podcasts number one on the charts, or reach the Top 200, or whatever. I want to make sure the expectations on both of our ends are very clear.

Chase Smith:
I think, being a part of a network – and this is what I would tell them – gives them credibility in their field. I think part of podcasting is what can we do to separate our podcasts from other podcasts?

Chase Smith:
It's kind of like a blog. Anyone can have a blog. Well, anyone, if they know how to use Google, can understand how to start a podcast. The game becomes what can we do to make your show stand out, and unique?

Chase Smith:
Whether it's with the quality of the content, like how it sounds; whether you sound like you're in a tin can, a garbage can, or in a studio? I think that matters. Having an awesome graphic; having a really intentional, and specific roll-in, or intro music that's not 45 seconds long, and it's not two seconds long. Finding that perfect medium.

Chase Smith:
Then, understanding that content does matter, and what you provide does matter. A network gives you credibility. It's telling your listeners that there's a group of people somewhere that deem this podcast awesome, and they want to be associated with it.

Chase Smith:
If there's four podcasts about office printers [crosstalk], I'm just … Random … I would be more likely to see an office printer podcast part of a network. Like, "Okay, maybe the host has some credentials, or this has some weight to it," more than just John Doe's podcast, or whatever [cross talk] To be able to communicate that probably a little more clearly than what I just did here!

Brett Johnson:
No. It makes perfect sense that there are lots of podcasts about printers. We'll go with the same example. The weight comes in that you decided they were good enough that you wanted them to be a part of P3, basically-

Chase Smith:
Yep. Giving the host a stamp of approval, like, "Oh, hey, you do have something to add to this field, and you're a part of this network." If that makes your podcast stand out, being able to use the reach of the current shows in the network, I think, is appealing to other hosts, and they wanna be a part of that.

Chase Smith:
One thing I've seen, Brett, pretty early in these "date" questions is, "How do I earn a sponsorship?" or, "How do I start earning money from my podcast?".

Chase Smith:
The fact that our network has acquired some sponsorships, and partnerships with other respectable businesses, that can be attractive to potential hosts, as well. Whether how we communicate to them what packages we offer, or what that looks like … We would provide those tools, and that kind of skeleton, and that kind of foot in the door with these businesses for a podcast to attract sponsorships.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Okay. Let's go the other direction. A couple of people wanna put a podcast together; certain genre; makes a lot of sense; it sounds good to you. It's like, "Yeah, I like that topic." What's that conversation like, then? It doesn't exist yet.

Chase Smith:
Yeah, so, as the president, CEO, whatever you want to call it, of the network, [cross talk] I want to just acquire assets. I want the network to grow. My initial goal was to do one new show a month. Here at month six, we have developed two, fully, that when it came to signing a contract, and recording, they just kind of realized it wasn't for them, which is totally fine.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, you bet. Better to realize then, than six months down the road.

Chase Smith:
Right. We were able to relaunch another one. We had to switch some hosts, and then, like I said, launching our "Up Next" podcast next week. I'm always open to talking, having conversations with hosts, just trying to, one, add to our portfolio, or assets, and also, branch out of sports, too.

Chase Smith:
I'm always willing to have a conversation, but someone who has never spoken in front of a microphone, or understand anything about the process, we would come alongside them, and, as long as their show is with us, walk hand-in-hand, and make sure that every question is answered; that in the mailbox, they receive whatever equipment they need, whatever microphone … We provide training on how to use the equipment.

Chase Smith:
Then, for someone who has never done this, we also provide graphics, and roll-in, and all of that stuff for them. We only want them to focus on content. We take care of all the back-end hosting, all the logistics. We take care of all of that.

Chase Smith:
You just focus on coming up with an outline, and kind of like a seven-episode idea of what you want this to look like. You focus on that. We will take care of all the other logistical, technical stuff of the podcast, and we'll train you on how to do what you want to do. For someone who has, it's a very different conversation for [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
That's why I wanted to ask, because it is two different pieces. One that's established has gone through that six-month, year, two-year growth of getting it down, put it that way. Those who are looking at it, going, "That sounds fun. I love this TV show, I wanna do this." That's great, but …

Chase Smith:
Right. Where I've found the most success in conversations is not so much, "Hey, bring your show on with us." It's more, "Hey, our network has this idea for a show. Can you come on board with us, and host it for us?" That's where I've seen the most positive two-way conversation, where the most trust is built, and there's this mutual excitement for the idea. That's where this "Up Next," all about these original shows, was able to get to the point where it is today, where they're gonna be released with three episodes, and all this stuff. It's gonna be good.

Brett Johnson:
We'll get back to the interview right after this.

Brett Johnson:
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Brett Johnson:
The question comes up: "What is my podcast worth?" To me, it's a surprisingly hard question to find an answer to – establishing what the real-world value of a podcast is. Should be hugely important to all of us – you, me – as an industry, in developing our shows, pitching to networks, investors, and maybe, one day, exchanging one of our babies for that sweet nectar of big cash, so we can do this full-time-

Chase Smith:
Oh, yeah, all the big cash!

Brett Johnson:
Exactly! There's been a lot of discussion in the media about this for years. There's one piece called The Monocle Model. That is, if your readers, or your listeners are rich enough, it doesn't matter how many you have, and the same applies to podcasts. I think that goes with both with blogs, and podcasts.

Brett Johnson:
If you can demonstrate the industrial lobbying power of your listenership, or that they fulfill certain demographic requirements for purchasers, you'll be able to get in the driver's seat. By and large, though, the equation is, sadly, that 100 listeners on Wall Street will be worth more than 1,000 rural households, usually.

Brett Johnson:
You can take a look at it, too, as: is 250,000 subscribers worth a million dollars, by default? There are newspapers that have a 250,000 weekly circulation that wouldn't hesitate to put a million dollars on it. I'm increasingly obsessed with reminding people that the value of the intellectual property – just as you're putting together – that the product we have in podcasting, it's branding, your shows, your feed, your archive, it's worth something.

Brett Johnson:
Looking at it, and talking about it that way, what's been in the back of your mind, and maybe in the forefront, to the growth of sponsorships? You just mentioned you got a couple of new ones, which is great, congratulations [cross talk] because it's hard work. It's a lot of hard work, and it doesn't stop when the sponsor signs the dotted line. That's actually the beginning, because it's a whole different relationship. What's been your strategy for the growth in sponsorship so far?

Chase Smith:
Well, I think the question, "How much is a podcast worth?" really fascinating-

Brett Johnson:
It is, yeah.

Chase Smith:
-I think it's worth a different amount to different people. Those 100 Wall Street listeners might not give a rip about a podcast about dish-washing soap [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
But if it's about a yacht, or yachting, a hundred will pay for that podcast.

Chase Smith:
Yes, and a yacht …

Brett Johnson:
Right, exactly! Exactly.

Chase Smith:
I think one of the appeals of a podcast, Brett, is that you can find about anything. I don't have to listen to a 60-minute radio show just for a three-minute segment on the Browns. I could listen to a 60-minute segment about the Browns, and a three-minute spot about this bottle of water – like an advertising spot-

Brett Johnson:
Sure.

Chase Smith:
That is appealing. A Browns podcast is worth infinitely more to a Browns fan than an Arizona Cardinals fan. I think even that question is just really, really interesting. Because podcasts are so pointed, and so one-lane focused, I think it's a blessing, and a curse. With it being so one-lane, you can really target potential sponsors, and really be able to market, and sell your podcast to people, whether …

Chase Smith:
For instance, a Browns podcast. All of our listeners come from Columbus, to Canton, to Cleveland [cross talk] all up, I think, 71 … All through 71, last season, we had a presenting sponsor called The Place. They sold hot tubs, spas, fireplaces, grills. They had this huge lot right on 71, and they were able to move products. It was great because they sell [inaudible] … It just made sense. They're not a new sponsor, I was just using that as an example.

Brett Johnson:
Sure.

Chase Smith:
The ones we just signed this … It's been a great week. It's been a great week! This week was Align Health Center. They work on rehabilitation sports, working with chiropractic of your spine, and body, and all these great things. They were all around … They have two branches in between Cleveland, and Canton. We also work with GV Art and Design. We just signed that today. It's a T-shirt company.

Chase Smith:
We're not signing sponsors that will have no success reaching Browns fans. We wouldn't do that to them. We wouldn't try to just take their money. We want to work with people who do have an appeal to Browns fans, whether it's with Browns T-shirts, or Cleveland T-shirts … If most of our audience is 20- to 35-year-old men, or 30- to 50-year-old men who might want some testosterone injections, or to work on their back, because they pulled it mowing, or whatever, well, check out Aligned Health Center. I think you have to be really strategic in your conversations with sponsors, as well.

Brett Johnson:
I think you have to be cognizant of, and respectful of, as well, your listeners. Is there even a connection with this product, this service that is now coming on board?

Chase Smith:
Yep. One of the things we did that saw the most success is for our live show. Last year, we did a live draft show – we had the number-one pick. We went to a restaurant; they reserved it for us; we blew it out; it was great. We asked our sponsors to come, and have giveaways, and just be a part of that with us, and that was incredible. People loved it. It just was a great way to help the sponsor know, "Hey, we're getting something out of this," and the people feel like, "Oh, I'm getting something free." It was just a win/win/win all around. The restaurant was packed all night; plus, the number-one pick, Baker … It was great. We had the number-four pick last year, as well.

Brett Johnson:
There's nothing like a live show.

Chase Smith:
No, it [cross talk] it was a ton of fun. This year, we don't have a draft pick in the first round, so we actually can't … We wanna do it again. We canceled it, because we traded for OBJ, and that was insane.

Chase Smith:
Yeah, it's been a great week. This is where I think radio is in trouble. Now, I don't have a history in radio, other than listening to it growing up. I haven't listened to it in- I'm not gonna tell you how long-

Brett Johnson:
Right, I know, I know. It's a time factor that I've actually found what I like on my phone, versus in the car-

Chase Smith:
Oh, my gosh, a story …

Brett Johnson:
-yeah, there's that radio in the car, you know?

Chase Smith:
-I know someone's daughter, they were in the car, and they were listening to the radio, and the daughter said, "Oh, Daddy, hey, go back, and play that song again. What was that one? I liked that one." He was like, "Hey, "I can't do that. Sorry. This isn't on my phone. This is the radio." It's like, "What's that? The kids, they're just like, "What is this concept of …? Why can't I control this? What is that?"

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Chase Smith:
What was my story, other than … We got on how the demise of radio, and I got all confused.

Brett Johnson:
No, it's okay … I think radio – I've got a previous episode talking with Steve Palmer, who is the host of "Lawyer Talk," as well as Dino Tripodis, who is a former on-air personality, and has a podcast, "Whiskey Business," talking about how radio is … Again, radio will survive. Our discussion was about have they missed the boat? Are they actually in the boat for podcasts? How are they looking at it, and such.

Brett Johnson:
I think some large conglomerates are probably aggressively doing it well, but their definition of a podcast may be a little bit different than what we are talking about. It's more of a re-purposing Best Of, but they, and I'm talking specifically – iHeart – they do have some original content, and they're putting original content … Whether they're buying the original content, or starting to create their own, I think they're getting it. It's-

Chase Smith:
I remember my thought.

Brett Johnson:
-it depends on what they want to do with it, and if they can monetize it – that's the big thing, for me, in my eyes.

Chase Smith:
A couple of things I want to touch on there, because I think it's really interesting. A live ad-read in a podcast, once that's embedded in an episode, that never goes away. If you buy a live ad-read on the radio, or purchase one, and no one listens in that time, you're outta luck, because you can't go back, and rewind the radio; where, a podcast, it's embedded forever.

Chase Smith:
People go back, and listen to our previous episodes. Those sponsors who bought that episode, even though they're not currently a sponsor, they're still getting bang for their buck. They're still getting a return on investment on the advertisement. In podcasts, ad-reads are evergreen. They are, and I think there's an appeal there that isn't with live radio.

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Chase Smith:
I think that could spell trouble just for some of these radio sponsors. Now, they're never gonna go away, like you said, but I think that there is an appeal, that "Oh, man, this is gonna be embedded in the episode," and as the podcast grows, it's just only gonna get more ears [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
I think podcasters are really grasping the idea of how to do … It's still a product endorsement, but they're talking to their listeners better than radio personalities do. Number one, because they can do it …

Brett Johnson:
Even though your sponsors bought 60-second commercials, or whatever you sold them, 90 seconds – it's a commercial. Radio is still limited by it's a 60-second commercial, and whether it's a live-read or not, it's 60 seconds.

Brett Johnson:
Where, a podcaster, they wanna talk about that sponsor, and it makes sense for the listener to follow that story line about the product. They'll follow along, because they're either using the product in their own life, or they know somebody that is, and they can tell a story around it. The quicker a podcaster can jump on that storytelling piece about their sponsor-

Chase Smith:
-it's huge.

Brett Johnson:
-that contract will be renewed year, after year, after year.

Chase Smith:
Yep! Now I want to flip this around a little bit, Brett, because the normal podcast isn't the 50,000-download threshold-

Brett Johnson:
It's not.

Chase Smith:
That is-

Brett Johnson:
The top two to three percent of all podcasts are even that kind of number.

Chase Smith:
Right. Most of them, I think, what is the average, 50 or, it's …?

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. The average … Last numbers I'd heard, about 1,000-1,500. It depends if it's the median, or the average. That number varies, as well, but if you're in the hundreds, you're in the ballpark of everybody else.

Chase Smith:
Right, yeah. The other side of this, though, Brett, is if your podcast is 100 subscribers, or listens, and a radio station's like, "Hey, can we use your podcast?" I think most podcast hosts are gonna jump on that and say, "Heck yeah, use my stuff!" Then the host gets to say, "Well, hey, my podcast is on the radio.".

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Chase Smith:
Again, anything you can do to set your podcast apart from someone else who's not on the radio gives you a leg up-

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Even if you're a go-to commentary person [cross talk] once a week, the WTAM sports host gives you a call, and you're cross-promoting your podcast, once a week, just talking about Browns [crosstalk] for five minutes … Exactly.

Chase Smith:
You better believe it. If some college station in Akron is like, "Hey, we have a 2:00 a.m. slot." Sure! I don't care!

Brett Johnson:
Exactly, exactly.

Chase Smith:
I think there's also this appeal that even though radio seems to be- their back's up against the wall a little bit, I still think they have some pretty big guns that they're gonna be able to say, "Well, hey, hold on a second. We're The Radio."

Brett Johnson:
Right. "We still have millions of listeners in every market, that, potentially, if I can get you 5,000 of those to subscribe to your podcast, we both win," right? It's like, "Of course, we do." [cross talk] there's still a win/win there, yeah.

Chase Smith:
I think there is this ask that they can say, "Well, hey, how about you give us some stuff?" I think most podcasts are gonna be ecstatic that they got that [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Oh, for sure. Yeah, for sure, cuz most- I think most podcasters are kinda radio wannabe people – kinda. You know, it's the mic thing; it's that tech thing. They've always wanted to talk about their favorite stuff, and they realize they can't buy airtime to do this.

Brett Johnson:
That's a lot of conversion that I have had, with me walking out of radio, that I've had clients, and people that I know; they wanna talk about a certain subject, and topic, about their business, or whatever it might be, but they can't afford the time.

Brett Johnson:
They also realize that "one and done." You buy that 8:00 in the morning on Sundays … Well, if that listener's not listening at 8:00 on Sunday morning, where else are they gonna get it, other than record it, and put it in a podcast. As we talked about previously, the radio thing does come into play, of course. I think there's a piece to it, just strategic, that sorta thing.

Brett Johnson:
How, now six podcasts coming on, how are you supporting each other as a network? I know that varies with all different networks out there, in regards to … There's the cross-promote plugs within the show, where even if it's social … What's your strategy been so far? Where are you looking to take that, in regards to helping each other lift the boat?

Chase Smith:
Yeah. Having hosts on different shows. My Browns co-host, Jeremy, JeremyinAkron, he loves the Indians, and the Cavs, so having him on those shows helps direct traffic; kind of cross-promote there.

Chase Smith:
I already told our host with the "Up Next" podcast, "Hey, I wanna be on when you do this show, and this show, and this show." I think just support each other that way. Obviously, sharing, and retweeting; commenting on our podcasts. Then using our own airtime, and buying our own airtime, and doing a live ad-read for that show.

Chase Smith:
Not only does that give our audience … Like, "Oh, they have this podcast coming up," but it gives my hosts practice in reading live on-air ad-reads, so, whenever they do have a sponsor, then they're not reading an ad for the first time. Then they've done that already with our shows; it gives them practice for that. That's what we're doing now …

Brett Johnson:
Makes sense. No, it makes sense, yeah. I know every network puts a different strategy together to support each other. I think the larger ones have a bit more difficulty in doing it, but I think what they then start to do is slice the pie, going, "Okay, these five can cross-promote each other, because it's the same genre," or, like you said, cross-promote, because they're actually hosting two, or three different podcasts, so they … "If you like me here, you're gonna like me on the other one, too," sorta thing, which is great. It goes right in line with what podcasting is all about, too.

Brett Johnson:
Biggest challenges … What are your challenges with this?

Chase Smith:
Biggest challenge for me is finding time to work on this. I have a full-time job, and then, another part-time job at a college in Circleville. All the time I've devoted to the network is either over my "lunch breaks," in air quotes – you can't see over podcasts, or late at night, when my wife is working on counseling stuff, and my daughter's asleep.

Chase Smith:
There are some days, Brett, when I just want to work on this all the time. It's really a challenge to stay disciplined. and to … "Oh, hey, I gotta get this done," or, "Oh, hey, I gotta work on my lecture for …" That's been the biggest challenge for me is just carving that time out. Actually, I'm waiting to hear back from Podcast Movement. Is that the big Orlando …?

Brett Johnson:
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Chase Smith:
I submitted a breakout speaking request about how to do this.

Brett Johnson:
Cool.

Chase Smith:
The initial cutoff was, "We'll let all the speakers know by April 1st," and they emailed back, "Oh, we'll let everyone know [crosstalk]

Brett Johnson:
They did that last year, too, because they have so many. It just took … I'd rather them do that, rather than just say, "Well, you know, we didn't get to the last 500." No, no, no, no, no … The next 500 could be- you got a gem in there, so that's a good sign.

Chase Smith:
I don't want to use it as an excuse, because I can't stand the "I'm just too busy" excuse. At the end of the day, Brett, you make time for what's important. You make time for your family; you make time for your faith; you make time to watch March Madness.

Chase Smith:
You make time for things that you wanna do, and that includes video games; that includes eating. You make time for what you wanna do. For me to say I don't make time for this … I'm not gonna say "I'm too busy," because you make time for what's important. I just wish I had more time for this in a day-

Brett Johnson:
Right. Understandable.

Chase Smith:
Sometimes, less time when other things …

Brett Johnson:
Sure; oh, yeah.

Chase Smith:
It's just a matter of carving that time out, and keeping a healthy balance of family, and faith, and just yourself … It's important for you to do things that give you life, and to rest, and [crosstalk]

Brett Johnson:
If you're down, you can't support the other podcasters in the network.

Chase Smith:
Yes. Right now, working on the network stuff, it does bring me energy, and life, and it is a weird way to rest, and relax, and have fun. Sometimes, I just love lounging on the couch, and eating a bowl of Captain Crunch with Crunchberries, and [crosstalk] just watching SNL, or whatever. I need that. too.

Brett Johnson:
Your brain needs it, though, too, because all of a sudden, inspiration will come at moments you didn't realize – walking the dog, or watching SNL, and you see something, or hear something, going, "That's it!" Your brain works that way. You gotta give it that time.

Chase Smith:
Yeah. That's a big challenge, as well. Also, I don't know if we … We talked; we had a great conversation before we recorded. I don't know if this was … I think it was in the recording. I said I'm a dreamer, and I'm optimistic.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, yeah, we have, sure.

Chase Smith:
I have all of these goals, all these dreams. Another challenge is just understanding it's a marathon, and just to be patient, and just to look at the bigger perspective. If I were to zoom out now, and say, "Man, in six months, we've been able to do this, and in a year from the conception of this idea, this is how far we've come, and this is what we've been able to do.".

Chase Smith:
You can get encouraged that way, but if you just get stuck in the minutiae of every day, like "Oh, man, I'm gonna get this done; I'm gonna get this done. I'm gonna get this, this …" then you can get pretty discouraged.

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Chase Smith:
It's a challenge to keep a proper perspective, too, sometimes.

Brett Johnson:
Sure.

Chase Smith:
Just because I can be pretty impatient. I see the steps that need to be taken. I just want them to be done now, but that's fun about it, too.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. I like that you're not- you have not mentioned one thing about competing against other networks, or concerned about other networks that are being developed, and such. I think it's healthy, because that's probably where this whole space is gonna go to, anyway, is a lot of networks are gonna be created on their own, organically, like you're doing.

Brett Johnson:
Independents are gonna come on board to help lift the boat of this small network. It's maybe, again, a Cleveland-based network that have a bunch of Cleveland- whether they're there, or not, but it's focused around Cleveland, and Columbus, or Cincinnati, or Ohio, or Midwest.

Brett Johnson:
That's where it's going to come into play, because, again, the cross-promote, as well as helping independent podcasters get more exposure a little easier than on their own shoulders. I think that's where it's gonna start to develop, and I think not looking in the rear-view mirror, not looking on the sides. Just do your thing, and not worry about everybody else. A marathon. You will be okay.

Chase Smith:
Yep, and part of that – I don't wanna waste the time I do have comparing myself to other networks, or other shows. That's not healthy. I'm really competitive in nature, so then I would just get like, "Well, why did they get so many downloads? They sound like…" I would just get really nasty, really quick.

Chase Smith:
Funny, ironically enough, our Browns podcast started off of just this disgruntled, unhappy feeling of, "Man, the Browns podcasts we have here are junk." It was kind of birthed from that. I do think I have a responsibility to have my finger on the pulse of the Browns podcasts, other Cavs podcasts.

Brett Johnson:
Sure.

Chase Smith:
I think I need to understand what they're doing, what they sound like, what that looks like, but I don't get lost. I don't devote all my time to that. I have my ear to the ground. I kinda know what's going on-.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. As long as you're different, and you're offering something different to the listeners, you're never going to lose them to the other podcast. They're doing the same thing.

Chase Smith:
Yeah. As you were mentioning about the Columbus … I think there's a market for a Blue Jackets podcast, a Clippers podcast. Two of my best friends, they love soccer, and I wanna do a podcast called "Corner Kick."

Chase Smith:
I think that's just … I see it. I would love to get in on that, cuz I think soccer fans are very passionate, like crazy-passionate, and I think it's only gonna grow, especially if the Clippers are back- the Crew [cross talk] I'm sorry, did I say "Clippers" both times?

Brett Johnson:
I'm not sure. I was thinking of my next … Where I'm gonna go with sports in my mind, too. I think our listener knows exactly what you're talking about, though, yeah.

Chase Smith:
A Crew, soccer … Again, that's kinda still in the sports realm, but I would-

Brett Johnson:
You've got a lane of sports. You kinda know where you need to go with that, and that's a good thing. That's a good thing, because I think the topic of – whether it's a TV show, movie show, or, like you said, "Up next," – is somewhat already self-designed, because you're gonna be talking about that show.

Chase Smith:
Yes.

Brett Johnson:
Of course, then it opens up the gateway: okay, how do we talk about it? But it is about the show. Sports has its own rhythm; what you need to talk about [cross talk] TV shows, and movies have the same type of rhythm. This is how you need to do this. Not formula, but don't go there with it; go here with it, because that's the … Most listeners are really tuning in for this type of thing, when they're trying to find this type of podcast.

Chase Smith:
Yep.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, exactly.

Chase Smith:
It really gives the host an opportunity to kind of stay in their lane, and, again, just make these shows super-honed-in, and focused on. "Well, hey, the Oscars are coming up; we're gonna have an Oscar preview show," or, "Hey, instant reactions about who won, or who got left out of the Oscars; who was snubbed," or "Hey, let's talk about the Crew. They just missed the playoffs." I don't know. I don't know anything about soccer [cross talk] when does the season start? I don't even know. I know they saved the team.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, exactly.

Chase Smith:
Sports, especially, really lends itself to these weekly shows, or seasonal podcasts. Answers some of those questions for the host, right? "Well, hey, who's my audience?" Well, fans of your team. "How often do I record?" Well, probably after every game. "Is there an off season?" Well, yeah … You know what I mean? Some of these-

Brett Johnson:
You can address every episode differently. Right.

Chase Smith:
-very, very simple. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly. Okay, contacting you – what's the best way, if they have a podcast already, or if they have an idea, now listening to this podcast, going "I gotta get a hold of him. I have this great idea. I know he's gonna love it!" What's the best way to contact you?

Chase Smith:
PressPlayPodcasts.com. Another way to set your podcast apart, I know we're kind of jumping around here … Being part of a network, and having a website, having your picture up there, a little bio. Again, just makes you feel good, and sets you apart.

Brett Johnson:
It's going to sell you, as well as it being approached. It's like, "Okay, what have you got already?"

Chase Smith:
Yeah. PressPlayPodcasts.com. You can check out our existing shows, and you can reach out to us there. You can find me on Twitter, @TheChaseSmith. You can follow the network on Twitter, @PressPlayPods, and that's probably the best way. I love Twitter. I'm on Twitter all the time, so Twitter might be the easiest direct way to my phone, right now.

Brett Johnson:
Cool. Good, good. Well, again, if you've got one, or you're thinking about a podcast, get a hold of Chase. Throw him the idea, at least, and see where it might land, but, I think, again, if you're a podcaster, and not part of a network, it's probably something that needs to be on your radar.

Brett Johnson:
Well, thanks for being a guest on "Note to Future Me," I really appreciate it. This has been really insightful. I've not delved into networks and talked about that, so this has been a really fresh topic.

Brett Johnson:
Again, I think, as I mentioned earlier, it's something independent podcasters need to be really taking a look at. Be prepared. It's probably a really good road to look at. Choose wisely, but do some investigation into it. Who's developing up, and entrance strategy, exit strategy, and can it help you get to where you want to be as a podcaster maybe a little bit quicker?

Chase Smith:
Sure. Let me just say one more thing. All of the hosts on our network, they have other full-time jobs, and families. I know that this is a hobby; that maybe you're looking to be a little more than a hobby, but I never want to put on our hosts this expectation of, "You have to record, or you're gonna let me down, or let whatever down."

Chase Smith:
I understand priorities, and I want you to have a healthy balance, too. Part of my job is, yes, to help you take your idea, or to help you help our idea get somewhere. I also want to make sure that you have proper boundaries, and you don't get burned out in the first month, because you're all excited, and that your family doesn't hate you, or hate me because you're doing this.

Chase Smith:
That's been a lot of fun on my end, just to kind of help our hosts hear my heart, and that, "Hey, I love what you're doing. I love this, but here …" I just told [Brent], and Mike, "Find a week the next couple weeks to take off," because part of our launch strategy, we have all these things to do, and they've been at it pretty hard. Helping them understand that I get the grind. I get the challenge of balancing family, and your full-time job, and then this podcast thing that no one in your family understands, and you have to like, "No, it's a real thing, I promise, I promise." That's been a lot of fun, too. Yeah, I'd love to hear from you if you're interested. Check us out!

Brett Johnson:
Good. Thank you, appreciate it.

Chase Smith:
Brett, thank you so much, man.

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Driving the CBus

In this episode, I interview Scott McComb, President and CEO of Heartland Bank – and host of the podcast Driving the CBus. Featuring insights from individual contributors from all corners, nooks and crannies of the Columbus, Ohio region, Scott has a goal to get to the why of our evolving and eclectic environment. We cover why he started the podcast, what he wants to accomplish, and what the future holds for the podcast.

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Brett Johnson:
So Scott, a non-profit you, or Heartland Bank likes to support. Tell me about it.

Scott McComb:
Yeah that's … How much time do we have? That is a extremely large question. Part of what community banking is all about is focusing on the community, and what is needed in the community. Because of that, we are sponsors, and supporters of well over 100 nonprofit organizations inside of Central Ohio, and on a national basis.

Scott McComb:
Some of the larger ones I think that we have supported is we are a big supporter of the USO of Central and Southern Ohio – "We're the Force behind the Force" – that are armed-forces men, and women in active duty service.

Scott McComb:
Our big mantra for the bank on an annual basis … We have a golf outing that supports children's charities. We firmly believe in the principle set by Colin Powell. The little red wagon concept that he had, about 15-20 years ago, where, if you can invest in a child's- early-childhood-development type causes, you can make a serious impact to their lives.

Scott McComb:
That brings us to all kinds of different charities that we've supported over the course of time, whether it's Junior Achievement, or whether it's the Lutheran Social Services, which is a very diverse group. Everything from Meals on Wheels, to childhood development, to reading, and workforce development, to … Victory Ministries is another one that we've supported. The Ohio Dyslexic Learning Center for children with dyslexia. That's hard to say, today, for whatever reason. There's just a whole host of ones that we've covered. Special Olympics … I couldn't list them all.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. That sounds good. I think there are certain categories of businesses that are obligated, almost. It's a good thing to do, and you know you need to do it. It's not one of those, "Hey, we've got to do this now" No, We've gotta do this." [cross talk].

Scott McComb:
Community banking is about taking capital inside the community. We take deposits, and investors that are willing to give us their capital, so we can provide them a return. Those are our shareholders. Then, we take depositors' money, loan it out locally to businesses, and it becomes this perpetual circle.

Scott McComb:
One of the things that is super-important is benevolence. Making sure that there's a food pantry, and that the food pantry has the resources it needs, in every community that we serve; things like that. It's just what community banking is all about.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Let's talk a little bit about your professional background, and history up to this point.

Scott McComb:
Sure. I have a very different background than most folks in my business. I'm an entrepreneur in the banking world. My father was a career banker; started off in a finance company, then got into community banking, here in town, with the Grove City Savings Bank in 1967.

Scott McComb:
That's when we moved to town, and I was one years old. I was born in Ironton, Ohio, and came up here … My whole family's from West Virginia. We are hillbillies, and the rest of the family's still living in the trailer behind the house in the holler. That's just the way it happens.

Scott McComb:
We were lucky enough to make it out of there, through the power of 4-H. My father actually made it out of the mountains, because he got a scholarship to Marshall University to be the captain of the livestock judging team … He majored in biology. Very eclectic background, there.

Scott McComb:
My background: we moved to Grove City, Ohio, here, and my father ran the Grove City Savings Bank for a guy named Jack Havens, who is one of the founders of modern-day Columbus, really. Chairman of Bank One; Chairman of the Ohio State University. He worked for him, and George Gestos.

Scott McComb:
Anyway, long story short, I finished high school. I was in college. Went to Grove City High School. Went to Ohio State … I was either gonna go to Ohio State, or go in the Marine Corps, because I was kind of a troubled youth. I was never really in trouble, but I liked to have fun … I think we've all been there.

Scott McComb:
I went to Ohio State, and I majored in High Street, and High Street was-

Brett Johnson:
I've heard that twice now, on my podcast.

Scott McComb:
Yeah, High Street is a great place. You learn to budget. You learn to love. You learn to fight. All those great things, right? I majored in High Street. Never really even declared a major, until I went back the second time, frankly.

Scott McComb:
When my father got to a certain point, where his bank was sold – he was working for a larger bank – he started Heartland Bank, and he was going to start Heartland Bancorp from scratch, and buy another smaller bank, and change the name to Heartland. That's how Heartland started.

Scott McComb:
When he did that though, he realized … He had a big epiphany moment in his life, where he said, "You know, really, Scott, the only way to wealth, to true wealth, is to own a business, and to earn money through equity; earn capital through equity. You can't really save your way to wealth, and to financial independence. It's just extremely difficult to do that."

Scott McComb:
He encouraged me to start my own business, as well. I was, again, majoring in High Street, and he helped me … He helped me start a home and business monitored-security-system company. I started that when I was 20. I ran that for about 10 years. It was called PFM Alert Systems. That standed for Police, Fire, and Medical Alert Systems.

Scott McComb:
That sprouted a couple other things. I sprouted a janitorial business, because I didn't make any money in the security business, for the first four or five years. To pay the mortgage, I had to clean other offices, and it just so happened, he needed a janitor at the bank. My first job at Heartland Bank, I was the janitor.

Scott McComb:
I cleaned the office in the Grove City office. Then, we had a Wilson Road office; then we had a 161 Frantz Road-Dublin office. I cleaned that. I had three or four different cleaning jobs. Then I started contracting out for other cleaning jobs, and that became a whole business, where I had employees, and 1099 contractors, and that kind of stuff. Meanwhile, the security business continued to thrive, and do really well.

Scott McComb:
I took the proverbial quarter off of High Street, at Ohio State, because reality was hitting me in the head, and I was doing … I was starting to do well. I was starting to turn a profit, and do those things, so I dropped out of school, and I just ran my business.

Scott McComb:
Did really well for about 10 years in that business. I was offered a number to … Was approached to sell the business, and they said "Well, just write a number on a piece of paper", and I wrote a number on the piece paper. and they took it; and I thought, "Damn, I should have probably asked for more money!"

Brett Johnson:
One more zero! Why not one more zero? Yeah, right.

Scott McComb:
My gosh, what did I do? Anyway, I went to work …I sold the business; did really well. Paid off all my debt. Put away money for the kid's college education. Went on to work for corporate America, with a company called Vector Security. Vector's one of the top three, probably, alarm companies in the nation, and a very, very good company, but you can't own any of the company; no one can own any of the company.

Scott McComb:
It's actually a wholly owned subsidiary of the Philadelphia Contributionship, which is the very first insurance company that was started by Benjamin Franklin in 1752. Goes way, way, way, way, way, back, and no one owns any of it except for the Philadelphia Contributionship. They paid me very well, but it was very disenchanting, because I wasn't building equity again.

Scott McComb:
I was going to start something else. I gave them three months' notice, and said, "Guys, this has been great. You paid me really well; took care of me, but I really gotta build equity, here. I've learned the only way to true wealth is through owning a business, and creating equity through sweat equity, and creating values."

Scott McComb:
I left there, and I was going to start something else. My father and I were on a golf trip in Orlando, Florida, and we're sitting at the bar having a Jack Daniels. That's what him and I like to drink, and what we drink together. I said to him, "Hey, is there anything I could do for you at the bank?" and he said, "Let's talk about that."

Scott McComb:
He laid out a whole plan of what I would do at the bank, and he agreed to give me a salary, which was 50 percent of what I was making at Vector Security, but I had no experience in the banking business. I said, "Okay, great. Let's do it."

Scott McComb:
I joined him at the bank as the Director of Internet Banking. We launched – very first thing that was in the technology world – driving, launching an internet bank, or the internet portion of the bank, in 1999, which was pretty revolutionary back in 1999.

Scott McComb:
I started there, and my entrepreneurial skills that I had learned in the previous decade really just kicked in, in the banking world. There's not a lot of entrepreneurs in the banking world. It was very easy to go in, and make common-sense decisions, work circles around folks … Entrepreneurs work 10-12 hours a day. That's what they do every day. Bankers not so much; bankers are usually [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
The banker hours come true.

Scott McComb:
-working the banker hours. Not so much anymore, but back in that time frame, that's the way it was. I joined the bank, and I never really gave up any responsibility. I learned the business. I was a teller for a while. I was the worst teller on the planet. I have dyslexia, so I transposed numbers, I can't read really fast, unless it's a financial statement, or something like that. If you threw a box, opened up a box of matches, and threw 'em out, I'd get within five of how many are on the table, just guessing. I have that going on, as well, which is confusing, and exciting at the same time.

Scott McComb:
I came through the bank, and I kept getting promoted, and taking on more responsibility. I'm a natural salesperson, and I love to build relationships, so, that worked out really well. I ended up becoming a loan officer, and getting a whole portfolio of customers that I brought into the bank.

Scott McComb:
Then, they made me the Chief Operating Officer of the bank, like seven years after I joined the bank. I thought to myself, "Wow, if I play my cards right, they might let me run this place." Because I knew my father was gonna retire … I'm coming up through the ranks, but I didn't have my degree. I'd promised my mom, before she died – I lost my mom very early – that I would finish my degree one day.

Scott McComb:
I put those two things together, and I decided this is the time to go do it. In 2007, I went back to school, and was running the bank as the bank's Chief Operating Officer; also, during the financial crisis, and then, I was going to school at night in Ohio State. I ended up graduating in 2009 [cross talk] Thank you. I'm very proud of that. It was a lot of work, a lot of dedication.

Scott McComb:
Then, I guess in between there, I went to the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin. That was in the early 2000s, it was like 2000-2003. A lot of education there. That's really where they teach banking there. You don't learn it in college, you learn it when you get out in the field, and in multiple other schools, and in courses, and things in the banking world.

Scott McComb:
My philosophy is that I never stop learning. I'm like a sponge. I'm afraid that I'm going to fall behind by not constantly figuring out how I can make myself better, or how I can find the next thing for my team to execute.

Scott McComb:
That's my background. It's a lot different than what you'd hear from other folks. Whenever I tell other bankers that, they can't believe that … They just can't believe it. They're like, "Oh, my gosh, no wonder!" So much things make sense, after that point-

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Sure.

Brett Johnson:
-because we don't run our bank like a bank. We run it like a technology company; like another business. If we want to run in herds with the other banks, then that makes what we deliver a commodity. Most people think banking is a commodity. I've discharged my team with going after the three or four percent of the population that understands value, and if we get those folks in the door, then we've successfully doubled the size of the bank, and we're probably doing pretty well.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly. Let's go into why a podcast for the bank. What were you thinking about?

Scott McComb:
Well, again, podcasts are hot. People want to understand. They want snippets. They don't want an hour long, or they don't want two hours long; a dissertation on this, or that, or the other thing, but they're very interested.

Scott McComb:
The population now understands that knowledge is at their fingertips. Well, that didn't happen … That's only been there for about 11 years, 12 years … The advent of the iPhone, or the iPod. Besides that, you had the internet, and podcasting really wasn't that popular, because it wasn't convenient. You had to be sitting at your desk.

Scott McComb:
Well, now, if I'm running, I can listen to a podcast. I'm out doing sit-ups, or I'm out fishing; I'm out knitting, I'm doing whatever … I can educate myself. I think there's a whole class of people, a large portion of the population, that has that same desire that I have. That, "Hey, what am I missing? What else can I … How can I stimulate myself, besides sitting in front of the TV, and have somebody lie to me, or try to change my opinion on something, or whatever? How can I educate myself, and maybe understand culture better? Maybe reach a new level of enlightenment?"

Scott McComb:
I think that's what podcasts do to folks, so, I thought that it would be really cool to have a podcast, where we could pump the bank a little bit, but it's really not about the bank. People don't want to be sold anything, right? That's just not what people want to be sold. They want to confirm their decisions. They want to be enlightened.

Scott McComb:
Moreover, I wanted to let people know, because Columbus is now this hot … One of the hottest cities east of the Mississippi. I wanted everybody to understand why, and how it got that way. That was the whole part of Driving the CBus. Who is driving the CBus? Obviously, CBus is Columbus, but who is driving it, and how did we get here? It wasn't by accident that we got here.

Scott McComb:
I've been in this town all my life, and when I have people grow up, younger folks in their 30s, they don't know Jack Havens. They don't know what the Ohio Sports Commission does. They don't understand the place of Kip Morse, and the Better Business Bureau, and what they've done. They don't understand local radio, with Randy Malloy, and CD102.5, and what they've been fighting.

Scott McComb:
I just thought it was a really good topic to start off with. That was our first line of topics. Now, I think we're shifting to where we're going to talk about just business in general, and then some other things that are happening in central Ohio, and try to keep it going.

Brett Johnson:
You got a team around you thinking about this, brainstorming, or is it just you, solo, going, "Hey, we're gonna do this … We're gonna do this …"?

Scott McComb:
We have a little bit of a team. I was the impetus of the whole team. We have a really crack marketing team. My assistant, Tracy Bayles, is really a crack person, and helps out a lot with me brainstorming stuff.

Brett Johnson:
By the way, she's in the room, folks [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Yes, she is here, and she just winked at me, so, it's cool. Then, my daughter Kailyn really helped us. She was the producer of Driving the CBus. She has really had an impetus there. We also have a group called Distribution Strategies, which is led by a young gal, named Ashley Trout. Ashley is one of the most creative people in our company. She is able to take all the wild ideas that I come up with, and boil them into value, and then execute … Her, and her group executes that value. She's helped me out quite a bit, as well.

Brett Johnson:
Well, good. From first thought of the podcast to open mic, and recording, how long did that take for you?

Scott McComb:
It took about two and a half months. We read some white papers on how to do podcasts; we listened to some podcasts. We had a little focus group – inside the bank – of people that listen to podcasts regularly, about what they like, and what they don't like.

Scott McComb:
We read one paper, I can remember it was the impetus, I forget the name of the author who it was, but basically said, "The most important thing is don't script it. It can be about anything. It has to be in a manageable amount of time, and the most expensive thing that you should really focus on is a really good microphone."

Brett Johnson:
Right.

Scott McComb:
Those are the things we took to heart, and I created the questions that I would ask. I created … Sent those out to our folks, and I created our first 10 or 12 guests. Kailyn produced them, and then off to the races we went.

Brett Johnson:
How hard was it to get those first guests, when you didn't have a podcast produced, and you're calling them, going, "I want you to be a guest"?

Scott McComb:
They were so excited. They were just excited to be part of it. The whole idea that I had was to obviously do things not only to tell the story, and all that, and you try to help the community, but you're obviously trying to help yourself, as well. If there's no reward, or some gratification, or some way that it helps, then what are you doing with your time? We live in that kind of society.

Scott McComb:
I actually hoped, and we actually were able to accomplish, where we could take our social media circles, and promote the podcast, and we were hoping to marry up with their social, the guests' social media circles, and maybe we'll meet somebody new. Maybe somebody will learn something different.

Scott McComb:
It's so inexpensive. It doesn't take a lot of time. There is a craft behind it, and frankly, it's becoming even more, and more eclectic over the course of time, with cameras, with all kinds of things, where people can look, and see … I actually drove to Cleveland to watch a podcast of things you should know, which is super-popular. There's millions of people that watch things, listen to things you should know. She wanted to go and see the podcast, so she drove up there with a friend to see the podcast that I thought, "Wow, you know the podcasts have arrived, when someone's gonna drive two and a half hours one way to check it out."

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, and I think we're dealing with a generation that's never experienced … You and I are at the cusp of it. We can listen to old radio programs. That's what they did. That was the entertainment form at the time, but, I think it's really cool that it's going back to that, that somebody will drive, or spend money to sit in an audience, and watch two people talking, or three people talking behind a table, and be entertained. Simple as that. It amazes me that it's come back to that again. I think it's great.

Scott McComb:
I think the death of cable is upon us. Really, it is. I think that the sitcom … I think the lackluster of Hollywood, all those things are … people have better things to do with their time. Now, we have books on tape. We have all kinds of things. I think the more nonfiction type entertainment models, and inputs are really coming on with this generation.

Scott McComb:
The millennial, everyone wants to throw the millennial generation under the bus, about, "Oh, they sit in the basement, and play video games, and they're living here til 35." That's not true. There's a very, very, very, small group of the millennial generation that are doing that.

Brett Johnson:
There's been a piece of every generation that did that.

Scott McComb:
That's right. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
Every generation. Yeah.

Scott McComb:
Exactly. That's just wrong. Frankly, we hire a lot of millennials that are at our bank, and if we can get more, and more of them, that's what we want to do. The fact the matter is they are very focused. They do treasure their time, but because they can use technology … They grew up never having to change a channel, to get up to change a channel. They're not afraid of the technology, so they can run rings around us baby boomers, and X'ers. They're just three times more effective with what they can do with the tools. They don't need as much time to get the same stuff done. Let's face it.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and looking at it as tools, too. They have that recognition, where X'ers, and Boomers are going, "This is so fun, I'm getting sucked in …" It's like, "No, it's a tool. Stop!"

Scott McComb:
Well, that, and also women in the workforce. I'm a big proponent for single moms, and for just women, in general. They are able to handle so much more on a different level, emotionally. I don't know how to explain it, but they're just more effective. Now that we're having more, and more women in the workforce, I think we're finding that we have … If you take those tools, and you put them together, a more decisive, focused workforce with technology, no wonder we have all the productivity we have, and we're chasing inflation that we can't ever get.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Yeah. With your busy schedule, how did you figure out a publishing schedule? How many times per month? Every week? How did you figure that out? What did you want to do?

Scott McComb:
My schedule was very hectic, so, what we were able to do, though, is do it in spurts. I would set up three in a row, and do three in a row; produce them. Then we would wait to launch them. We did them in spurts, when my schedule would allow.

Scott McComb:
Summertime is a decent time to do those. The spring and the fall are usually very, very busy with travel for me, because I have some national positions. Then, the Winter, I like to spend some time in Florida, and get out of these Ohio winters. We were able to do them in spurts, and I think we had a total of maybe five recording sessions for 12 podcasts, and it worked out pretty well.

Brett Johnson:
I think a lot of podcasters do a batch recording. It's just easier; it fits the schedule. As long as it's not time-sensitive, it's okay. It works out just fine.

Scott McComb:
It's not time-sensitive, but, that's the thing … If your topic is about current events, though, then it's-

Brett Johnson:
Can't do it. Right.

Scott McComb:
You can't do it, and if you're gonna do something, have segments about current events, and things, then it wouldn't work out so well.

Brett Johnson:
Any references to it, of-

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
"This coming summer …" Oh, gotta edit that out.

Scott McComb:
That's right. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
But it happens, yeah … You talked about social media, between yourself, as well as guests. What was the social media strategy, at least for your podcast? Which channels to use? Which social media has you've seen work real well, and maybe ones like, "Nah, kick that to the curb; it's just not working"?

Scott McComb:
We're very active on social media, primarily for the bank, on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook; not so much on Instagram, and not so much on Pinterest. We've really used those three things along with our website. We have a lot of customers, because they're doing internet banking, and paying bills, and checking their balance. Very active website.

Scott McComb:
We were able to push those things out on those mediums. Never really did a press release, per se, we just wanted to put it out there, and let people start to see, and see what kinda reaction we got. Obviously, we wanna maintain our reputation risk as a financial institution.

Scott McComb:
It was very important that Scott didn't get out there, and say something that would offend people that are depositors, or whatever. We wanted to be very sensitive to that. At the same time, I think my customers, they bank with us because they know who we are, and we're very transparent; we're just going to say what we feel, and we believe everyone else should be able to say what they feel – no big deal.

Scott McComb:
Those are the mediums that we really chose, so, we drove those … A very regimented preemptive announcement for each launch. One that's gonna launch on Saturday, we would hit the media, hit all those mediums, and say, "Okay, this is coming on Saturday", and then maybe one or two more posts about that coming up, and then it's live. Then we're back into square one, again, waiting for the next episode to be launched.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. You're using YouTube as, basically, the platform. I wanna know, why did you choose YouTube?

Scott McComb:
Well, it's just where we had videos already. We have various interviews from me, and other mediums. What we would hope is that because everything was already there, that they would see this, and then maybe go to see some other things that had to do with the bank, and get to know us, and what a community player, and a community supporter we are.

Brett Johnson:
Gotcha. Your current setup for "studio," what's it like? Describe it.

Scott McComb:
It is basically the Amerine Conference Room at Heartland Bancorp. It's just a basic conference room; not a big one. We don't do anything special. My daughter Kailyn plugs in microphones into her laptop; we have two microphones there that are $150 a piece. That's our total cost, and a little piece of software, and that's it.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, good. She does the editing, as well, then, too [cross talk]

Scott McComb:
She does the editing. We try not to do a ton of editing, because we really want it to be real, and conversational. I think podcast listeners understand that … They don't want it to be too scripted. They want people to speak off the cuff, and talk about things that come to their mind, and be very genuine in their delivery of the material.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. What are your biggest challenges in creating the podcast?

Scott McComb:
Biggest challenge is my schedule, and lining up with Kailyn's schedule, because that's not what she does full time. This is an add-on to her thing. We really don't have somebody that we've hired to specifically do this, that does that for a living, and such, and so forth. That was a big challenge, getting it going.

Scott McComb:
Another challenge of getting going was getting buy-in, internally. I do a lot of things where I don't have a lot of buy-in, because I think that I'm going to create the buy-in. I lose as many times as I win, but I'm not afraid to lose, on the aspect that you have to take risks in order to win.

Scott McComb:
I think everybody knows that at the bank, that I'm willing to jump out, and do something new, to see what happens, and try it, and see how effective it might be. That was a little bit of a thing. People were like, "I don't know what that's gonna be about …" What kind of reputation risk do we take? "What's he gonna say?" Nobody ever knows what I'm gonna say, and I kinda like it that way. Those are a few things.

Scott McComb:
Besides that, we really didn't have any challenges. It was very smooth, and once we did the first couple episodes, people were like, "Hey, when's the next one? What's the next one gonna be about?" or, "Hey, here's a suggested guest you could have …" "I really like this." We got a lot of feedback, a lot of likes; social media really took to it. I think we really accomplished what we set out to do.

Brett Johnson:
I think that leads into the next question about advice for businesses, not necessarily in the banking industry, but any business interested in podcasting – from your experience, what you've had to do internally. Not, again, businesses that are like yours, but they're going to run into those walls of internal, "Uh, do I really wanna do that?" What advice would you give?

Scott McComb:
Well, a lot of folks'll say, "Well, geez, you only had 35 people listen to that. That's not very much". Well, have you ever done direct mail? You're gonna send out 5,000 things, and you might get 10 phone calls. That's better than direct. mail, and it's cheaper. Before you shut the door on it, and you decide never to do it, why not try it?

Scott McComb:
I think the big thing is that they have to have a commitment to it, to keep it going over time. Even if you did one or two a year, or three a year, and you're talking about your business, and what you did, and everything else, there's nothing bad, I think, that can come from that, unless you get too political, or if you- with your business … Maybe your business is only gonna cater to people on the left, or whatever. That's fine if that's an angle that you're gonna go for, but you do take some risk in that regard.

Scott McComb:
Besides that, I really don't see any downside to people telling their story. Because, especially, in Columbus, for instance … In Columbus, people support local ventures, and they wanna know your story. Part of what we even tell our Heartland Bank associates is, "Go out, and tell your Heartland story. This isn't a mechanical thing. You're helping make this story over the course of time. Go tell your story, and people will become believers."

Scott McComb:
I truly feel that any business can do that, as well, if they are ethical, if their associates are taken care of properly, and they have a positive attitude, and they have the utmost in integrity. I really think you could take this medium. and make it work for you.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, because you can't fake what you just did. You can't. It's from the heart. Yes, there are actors that can put on the voices, and such, but we're not actors. We've not been trained to do so. I think the inhibitions come down, and you just want to talk, and talk about yourself, and talk about the story, and talk about helping people, for the most part.

Scott McComb:
Right. They definitely don't have short, fat, bald, actors. That's for sure. I would not be an actor.

Brett Johnson:
Without giving away too many secrets, possibly, maybe a vagueness … Some future plans for the podcast? Where do you want to go with it [cross talk]

Scott McComb:
I'd be more than happy to tell we're going. We're an open book. Where I want to go is I want to find someone to help us to be more professional in putting it on. I'd like to true it up a little bit more, with taking on a challenge of going to some of the other things, like, if we had a video thing of it, a video portion of the podcast. Not every one, maybe, but certain ones.

Scott McComb:
I would love to talk about different strands of conversation. Not just about Driving the CBus, but taking Driving the CBus as an impetus to have some conversations that have different threads, whether that's an industry thread, whether that's a local thread, maybe that's a national thread, maybe it's a nonprofit thread, who knows? Just some of the things that I'm involved with to be able to help the people that we associate with continue to grow their communities, and get the word out, and talk about their challenges, and their victories. That's our next step.

Scott McComb:
We're trying to … I think we figured out that we're going to take it not only to a business segment, where we're going to talk to our customers about their business; not about how they bank, but about their business, and challenges they have with their business, and successes, and what works, and what doesn't, that kind of thing …

Scott McComb:
As well as a more industry-focused piece that would be a different angle. That'd be maybe even a separate podcast, where we talk to industry experts, and service providers, and that kind of thing, just about what's happening in the business, and appeal to the banking community as a whole, on a national level.

Brett Johnson:
I think any way you can peel away some mysteries of what banks can do, whether it's the B2C, or the B2B, it's good. Again, this will time this podcast, but just with the school-admissions scandal. That stuff happens because there are so many layers of mystery.

Scott McComb:
That's right. That's right. Well, yeah, I don't know if we wanna get started on that. It was just nice to see the IRS, the FBI, and the Justice Department actually take some people down that are breaking the law. Not only breaking the law, but they're just dishonest. These are people that don't have to do it.

Brett Johnson:
That's what's the head-scratcher about it is-

Scott McComb:
It just is amazing-

Brett Johnson:
-that's exactly right.

Scott McComb:
I'm gonna ruin my life, and my kids' life, and everything else, just because I wanted them to have this status. They can buy status, right? They have [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Yes, they can. For the amount of money that was being thrown around, they could have donated to get their kid in … Ultimately. Really.

Scott McComb:
Yeah, it's crazy.

Brett Johnson:
I think this forum helps bring back those layers that, then, you can understand the banking business.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
There are a lot of misconceptions about it, and I think podcast is a really good way-

Scott McComb:
Oh yeah.

Brett Johnson:
-to bring back saying, "You know what? I remember Scott talking about that on his podcast."

Scott McComb:
That's right. Well, you know what it's about? We find our customers, all the time, just don't understand the why. They need to understand the why. When we go to talk to folks about banking, and such, and so forth, we're not in … We're just not going to come back with a yes or no. I never want to come back with just … I fight that every day, as the bank gets bigger. Our culture is the most important thing to us, and to our board of directors. As soon as that changes, we're going to have issues. I'm not going to let that change.

Scott McComb:
We want to go, and tell customers how it can be a yes; not a no, but how it can be a yes, because they have to get that from someplace. They're not getting it from their accountants; they're not getting it from their suppliers, and everything else. They have to have somebody telling them, "Look, this is what has to happen for you to get to the next level."

Scott McComb:
Me giving them more money could be the nail in the coffin. That's really … I could kill somebody with a loan, just a company, with a loan, just as soon as we can help somebody with a loan. That's really what we want to try to provide folks. I think that the why behind banking is … It would be very, very revealing.

Scott McComb:
Right now, the history books are being written wrong about the financial disaster, for instance – how it occurred, what happened, the big bad [TARP]. That was just such a bad thing. All those are … That's all fiction. I lived it. I was going to Ohio State, after majoring in High Street. Remember, we talked about that earlier … All through that section, that would be a whole 'nother … We could do something on the financial disaster, with people that lived it, and say, "This is how the Big Short occurred," and it would be fascinating [cross talk] and it's not what you see on TV-

Brett Johnson:
You'll have a following for it; people love that stuff that was not covered properly. They love it.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
They love it. We're in a generation that that instant information is there, that you can google it up, and find what you hope is the truth, or at least differing views. Then, it's up to you to come up with the right stuff in your mind, whatever you wanna believe, yeah-

Scott McComb:
That's right. Getting it from the people who lived it, I think, is about the most real way you can get that information.

Brett Johnson:
Exactly. Exactly.

Brett Johnson:
In today's world, it seems like … In one of my podcasts, I was interviewing someone from the media. They'll remain nameless. Somebody does their homework, they can find out who it is. The fact of the matter is that person said to me … I said, "What do you think about what's going on in the media these days? What's happening to journalism?" He says, "What do you mean?" I said, "Well, I mean it seems to me like everybody … Everybody that has an interview has a preconceived notion, and they're asking questions to validify their preconceived notion." He said, "Oh, that's the way they teach … That's why they've teached journalism for the last 20 years."

Scott McComb:
What happened to reporting the facts? He says, "Well, that's not what it's about. Journalism is about developing an axiom, or a thought, or a theorem, and then proving the theorem through your questioning." I said, "That's not journalism. What happened to …?

Brett Johnson:
That's muckraking, ultimately, yeah, I guess-

Scott McComb:
Anyway, that's what he said, and I didn't want to queer the podcast, so I'm like, "Okay, we're not going to do that." We changed the topic, and went on to something else.

Brett Johnson:
That's interesting. Again, I think that's unique [inaudible] as a podcaster. You can go down a rabbit hole, which we're doing right now, which I have no problem with at all, because it validifies what this whole thing's all about.

Scott McComb:
That's right.

Brett Johnson:
It's just interesting conversation. Find out more about you; find out more about … I want to listen this podcast, now. Scott sounds like a pretty good host. They must be pretty good. You've referenced a couple … That's the thing. That's what it's all about, as well as being a proponent, with my radio background, as well, too, it's just a really easy-access forum to talk to your future, or current customers, too.

Scott McComb:
That's right [cross talk] It's all about relationships. The world's about relationships. People want to do business with folks that they know, like, and have respect for, and can [cross talk] have trust. That's what it's all about.

Brett Johnson:
Well, thanks for being a part of the podcast. I really appreciate it. It's good to know you better, about where the podcast has been, and going. Our listeners at least can have an opportunity to know what to expect in the future, too, which is fun.

Scott McComb:
That's great. It's been a pleasure being here. I love your studio, everything that you've got here is great. Promoting, the whole basis of this podcast, was very interesting to me, because it really hit me as being, yeah, I would love to talk about that. I did it. It was easy. It was … It can open up doors for you. I appreciate being able to tell my story. Thanks very much.

Brett Johnson:
You bet. Thank you.

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Recorded in Studio C in the 511 Studios located in the Brewery District in downtown Columbus, OH.

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Brett Johnson:
Well, before we get into the nuts and bolts of the podcast, as I do with all my guests, I wanna ask both of you nonprofits that you support. Either one of you jump in at any time.

Aaron Jannetti:
There's two main ones that come to mind for us. One that's actually in the CrossFit world, specifically, which is of the things that we do is an organization that's actually called Barbells for Boobs. They essentially raise money to get just mammograms for ladies to be able to keep up on it, and get checked; especially the ones that either can't afford it, or don't have the insurance for it, or that. They've done amazing things with breast cancer. One of our very good friends, and actually lifts, right now, with Project Lift, Sherri [inaudible] was a survivor of breast cancer. They did a lot for her.

Aaron Jannetti:
I'm a chairman of the board for the Arnold Sports Festival for the CrossFit section, or the functional-fitness section. Last year, we had them out. They did a two-hour routine, did a couple of workouts, had a couple of survivors come out, and talk. We do a lot of fundraising for them. We help support Sherri in that. That's one of them.

Aaron Jannetti:
Then, the other one that we do annually … it's not-for-profit, but Nationwide Children's. Every year, we do a really big toy drive for them around the holidays for Christmas time. We put up a tree in the front; all of our members come in, and bring in things like that. Then we drop them off before the holidays.

Aaron Jannetti:
Those are two of our constants. There's been plenty we've supported over the years; everything from homeless, to dog shelters, to everything, but those are the two that we tend to support constantly.

Drew Dillon:
Yeah, those are our big constant ones. It's really cool that you bring up the question, because it's recently just been on my mind; been on my mind about … Actually, I think it was Tony Robbins finally smacked it into me, in just finishing one of his books recently.

Drew Dillon:
I thought it was interesting how he talked about giving, even when you didn't feel like you had enough to give, and the point of helping you create the feeling of abundance. If you can give 10 percent, even now, with whatever you have … One, you're gonna feel great about it, but, two, you're gonna feel that there's more out there. I really started to look … In addition to the ones that we've done over the years, because it always seems like ones pop up. Like, "Oh, here's this one. You wanna … Yeah, okay, we'll help."

Drew Dillon:
One thing, growing up, that really affected me was Boy Scouts. Just recently, I've started giving to Boy Scouts of America, just looking … I went, and did a little bit of research, and seen what they were still up to … I just love- I love the beginning of the pledge. "On my honor, I swear I'll do my best." You know what I mean?

Drew Dillon:
Again, I think working with individuals in strength and fitness, one of the things, watching kids grow up, if they can just understand … The commitment to do your best, whatever that is, is a great foundation. I just look at growing up … I didn't make Eagle Scout. I got out of Boy Scouts probably mid-teens right, but, even the time that I was in through, loved the experience I had.

Drew Dillon:
I think it's still funny is when people go, "Well, what does it really give you?" Here's one, right out of the gate, is watch someone try to move something, where they have to tie a knot. They have to secure something. They're like, "It's just like you can tie your shoes, right? What are you doing?" They're like, "Well, I don't I don't know …" and you come over, and you tie a slipknot, or you tie just a different knot, and they're, "How'd you know how to do that?" Boy Scouts.

Brett Johnson:
One good take away, that's for sure, exactly, yeah. I got to thinking, before I hit the record button … I hadn't put this in my notes, but if I don't do this right now, I'm gonna catch a lot of hell, if I don't say a big shout out to Dr. Rich Ulm-

Drew Dillon:
Oh, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
I know he's gonna listen to this episode, once it's published, and if I- when I see him next – there's not even an if – when I see him next, the next time I have problems, he may not even see me, if I don't- of we don't say something to him. He is the one that connected us to talk about your podcast. I've been seeing him for years, through our kids, as well as my wife, and myself.

Brett Johnson:
Every time I go in, it's about a podcast of some kind. We're talking podcasting, or radio, that sorta thing. I appreciate him connecting us, and getting me to know you guys better, about your podcast, as well, too …

Brett Johnson:
Let's do a little bit of background history between the two of you – where you started, and how you got here today, let's put it that way, with your professional background, your history, and the two businesses that you own, and how you're coming together.

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah. We technically own two different businesses, and yet, in the same regard, we help each other with those businesses, and both of the businesses thrive off each other. We're both located at one location, which is in Hilliard Ohio..

Aaron Jannetti:
I run Endeavor Defense and Fitness, along with two other business partners. Then, I'll let Drew talk about Project Lift, a little more, later, but he runs Project Lift. We're at the same facility. He's got his own area; we have our own area, but the overlap is phenomenal there..

Aaron Jannetti:
I started … I was introduced to originally Krav Maga – which is a self-defense system – in really early 2008. For me, I was a landscape architecture student at Ohio State, and I found this system at a time where I was out of money. I was paying my way through college. I had to take a quarter off. I wasn't in the best spot, let's just put it that way, mentally, psychologically, emotionally, anything there.

Aaron Jannetti:
I found this place; it was a good release. I'd done a little bit of martial arts as a kid. Pretty much just never left, to the point where I helped them open up a second location later on that year. I actually left Ohio State, and started working there full time, and that's pretty much been it from there.

Aaron Jannetti:
From that path, I was introduced to CrossFit, and then into more of the self-defense side of things, and then, eventually, weightlifting. I met Drew … The first time him and I met was actually at a [USAW] weightlifting certification. He was one of the lifters there that was helping out with the course. We talked, but not outside of, "I'm here to lift weights, and tell you when you suck," and, "I'm here to try not to suck …" out of that relationship.

Aaron Jannetti:
Eventually, through weightlifting, we ended up back in the same spot. The club he was with started lifting at our facility. Then, when he had an opportunity to open up his own club, he was like, "Hey, would you guys mind if we stayed here?" I was like, "Yes …" During that whole entire time, him and I have just naturally – from a business standpoint, life standpoint – we tend to just gravitate towards each other, challenge each other.

Aaron Jannetti:
We've learned a lot from each other. I wouldn't be where I'm at right now, with my business, if it wasn't for him, and I would like to think we've supported his relatively well. That's my background; that's how we, at least, came together. I'll let him talk about Project Lift, as he knows a lot more about that.

Drew Dillon:
Project Lift, like Aaron said, a separate entity. It's funny to hear Aaron started back in Krav Maga, around 2008. Around 2008 is when I got into Olympic lifting – weightlifting with the snatch, clean, and jerk competitions around that nature.

Drew Dillon:
At the time, I had graduated from Ohio State, and was getting off the ground, figuring it out. There was a natural draw to weightlifting for me. I found it fun; I found it exciting; I started to have some success in it. It was a really nice … In a way, maybe I could think of it as an escape, at times, from trying to cut my teeth, out in the world of figuring out, "Oh, what do I wanna do?" Whereas, at least I have this something over here, having some success with it.

Drew Dillon:
Like Aaron said, we met each other in a certification, first, but I first remember going, "Oh, man …" Our relationship growing a bit more was … It's funny that you'd brought up nonprofits … He was doing these once-a-month Friday cookout/workouts to raise money for a nonprofit of that month. It was whatever causes was going on. We were talking, and I'm a huge griller. I was one of the founding members of the Buckeye Barbecue Club at Ohio State, back in the day. Aaron's not much of a cooker …

Aaron Jannetti:
I can make a mean rib eye [cross talk] that's about the extent of it.

Drew Dillon:
We were talking about grilling, and he's like, "Man, I always wish I had somebody help me out with this cookout for these events." I was like, "Oh, man, I can cook." I came in to help grill, and watch this event, experience this event. I was like, "Man, this is really cool." I remember that being a moment, where I was like, "Yeah, this guy's somebody I'd like to get to know more," you know what I mean? Our relationship grew out of that. We just started to work more with each other, and it just continued to grow, and grow. Project Lift would definitely not be where it is today, without Aaron, and the support of Endeavor.

Brett Johnson:
Excellent. How did the conversation about a podcast begin? I love the set-up that you two are very complementary to each other, in regards to the businesses, as well as maybe even the outlook on life. You help support each other, and such. The podcast … Let's talk about how that conversation started.

Aaron Jannetti:
I think it works really well, because not only are we complementary, but we also will absolutely just tear each other apart [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
That's okay … Exactly.

Aaron Jannetti:
Was it two years ago [cross talk]

Drew Dillon:
We tried a little one. Yeah.

Aaron Jannetti:
We kinda tinkered around with it a while ago. Just through the concept of just content creation, in general … We've always done a lot of instructional videos, highlight videos, make sure there's images … We were just talking about this before we actually started recording, but it's the age of the internet. If you're going to be successful with a business, you have to have a presence. You have to accept social media, whether you like it or not, and then, you have to play that. We were making videos … It was just another opportunity to get some content out.

Aaron Jannetti:
The first go round we did with it, to be completely honest, I ordered a small little two-track Behringer off of Amazon, and we had essentially three mics. We used a blue, just the basic blue USB mic. Then we had two headsets.

Aaron Jannetti:
The original premise of it was we were interviewing people that were very, very knowledgeable, and had a lot of wisdom in certain areas, based in central Ohio. That was the shtick was everybody goes off to California, Texas, and all these other places to find powerlifting instruction, or nutrition, stuff like that. It was an opportunity to highlight, like there's a lot of this information locally. You don't have to go out of it, and so, to highlight some of those opportunities …

Aaron Jannetti:
We interviewed Sherri, who we were talking about earlier, with Barbells for Boobs. We interviewed Sean Clifton. He's a Purple Heart recipient. He was shot multiple times, during war, and his bounce back, and recovery into CrossFit. We interviewed a couple on nutrition. We had Joe Lasko, from Westside Barbell.

Aaron Jannetti:
It really was just … We had one or two questions set up for 'em, but it was more just a conversation: who are you? What's your background? Then, we'd ask a couple questions around it. We tinkered around with that for maybe eight episodes, or something like that. It was very loose, and it was … That kinda died off, more or less because I'm a little bit ADD. I'm all over the place. I don't know, it was probably September …?

Drew Dillon:
Something like that. I feel like, with the interviews, and even, I think, at times, we were so focused around stuff that related to the business, still, that … I don't know. I don't know whether it just got exhausting, or the interview part definitely made it more difficult [cross talk] right outta the gate.

Aaron Jannetti:
That kinda fell off. Again, we have multiple irons in multiple fires, at any point in time, so that fell by the wayside. Then, it was actually how this podcast came about is … It's kinda twofold.

Aaron Jannetti:
Drew and I, we usually get together, I don't know, once every four weeks, six weeks, where we would just get a cup of coffee, and just talk. What's going on with Project Lift? What issues are you running into? He would … What's going on with Endeavor? What do you got going on? Just talk about family, and everything that goes with that.

Aaron Jannetti:
One of our friends, his name's Rob Pincus, reached out to me, because he was thinking about starting an internet- essentially a radio station, or network, and he wanted us to host a show. He was actually the one that replanted that seed.

Aaron Jannetti:
We sat down, and the first couple questions were, okay, we tried this once. Is this feasible? If we are going to do it, what kind of a time commitment do we actually have? Then, if we are going to do, what that looked like.

Aaron Jannetti:
It started just morphing into to, idea-wise, what it is now, which is just let's just talk about all the stuff we normally talk about, which is how are we improving the business? How are we improving in life? What are the issues we're running into? It can pertain to entrepreneurship. It can pertain to weightlifting. It can pertain to self-defense. It might just pertain to bourbon … Whatever gets there.

Aaron Jannetti:
That's what jumped off, where we went with it. Eventually, the idea of the radio network died off, but, we were gung-ho, and we were pretty excited about it. I'm one of those dudes that when we're … If you wanna do something, I just do it [cross talk]

Aaron Jannetti:
I went down to the local music shop, bought a couple of Shure microphones; ordered a better version of the Behringer that holds on more tracks, so we can bring on other people, if we wanted to. Then we just-.

Drew Dillon:
Started.

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah. We just hashed out, and rolled.

Drew Dillon:
I think one thing, in reflection, between the podcast that we originally started with the interviews, and getting going … One, there wasn't much of that commitment. We were definitely dabbling. With the dabbling, we also, with the interviews, I think, set up a situation that is a bit more challenging, if you're just dabbling. There's gotta be stronger commitment there, if you're gonna be reaching out to people – more of a laid plan.

Drew Dillon:
One thing going into it, too, and I remember talking with Aaron, if we were just gonna talk about weightlifting, I don't know how long I could go. I think I would get a bit bored.

Drew Dillon:
It's funny, within the walls of Project Lift, although these athletes …. You typically find ones that are wanting to compete in the sport, that are in a sport, but wanna become better at their sport, utilizing the Olympic lifts to become more explosive, or they find the Olympic lifts intriguing, and just want to learn. They might stick their toe into a competition, and see what it's like …

Drew Dillon:
For anyone who hasn't done a snatch, or a clean and jerk, but has golfed, I think that's a really good connection. Think of the complexities of a golf swing. That is the same complexities put into two different movements. You see athletes spend their whole career competing in this sport …

Drew Dillon:
One thing within those walls, the conversations often come down to just improving at life. What's our foundation that's allowing us to train – consistently, healthy … All of these life conversations that Aaron and I will sit down, and have coffee with, or multiple times, are sitting down with clients, and having conversations with, and then, even other key individuals in our businesses.

Drew Dillon:
I think that's one thing that we've done pretty well is whether it's a partner, or a coach on my side, or a partner, or a coach on his side, we both are watching. I think it's really funny, when I catch one, and something comes up in a conversation, and I just throw a piece of advice at 'em, or challenge 'em on something. They're like, "Oh, that's kinda what Aaron said, but a different way to say it." It's like, "Yeah …"

Drew Dillon:
Then, also, texting each other, going, "Hey, man, what's up with so-and-so? They okay?" Just giving support, and going, "Aww, man, I think they're going through a hard time." That's the thing. I think a lot of people don't give credit to the foundation to allow yourself to be consistent at whatever you want to do. That's one thing that's been really fun about this podcast to talk about.

Aaron Jannetti:
The commitment thing was real big, because we actually sat down, and said if we are going to do this, we have to have a time slot. There's gotta be … It's on the calendar; we don't stir from it. That's just the way it is. That actually spurred …

Aaron Jannetti:
You talk about putting the studio together, and have a designated space. We did that. We had an area upstairs that we had originally intended to be a child watch for people that were coming in to take classes, and wanted to drop their kids off. For staffing reasons, insurance, and everything else, it just fell through.

Aaron Jannetti:
Then, we had this open spot that we had dropped five grand into, to have the walls built out, and all that. It actually ended up being great, because, like I said, we do a lot of media content, anyway, so, we turned it into a studio/pretty much our media room. All of our cameras are up there. We have a green screen. We have a wall that's all whiteboards. That allowed us to have that designated space, and people know, once I walk upstairs, and the door's shut … For us, we do it on Sundays, which the gym's closed anyway, but it works out really well.

Aaron Jannetti:
I think what's interesting is Drew and I are both at a spot right now, in the business, where we're both … Like he would say, we're working on the business, instead of working in the business as much. Whereas, when I started, I love teaching. I tell people all the time, if it was up to me, I would just teach, but to make a business successful, you've gotta step back, and you have to see all the pieces. Plus, I have a phenomenal, phenomenal team of instructors. If I'm taking up, and hogging all the classes, I'm not allowing them the opportunity to grow..

Aaron Jannetti:
A lot of the conversations we have, I've realized my role, if I'm gonna make the business more successful, is to make sure that the staff is more successful. All the conversations we're generally having are the same things that I dealt with, trying to figure out how to become a better instructor; how to become a better husband. Now, I have I have two children, so, how to become a better father; how to become a better business owner.

Aaron Jannetti:
It's allowing us an opportunity, where I'm going, "Well, instead of making you guys figure this out the way I figured it out, let's have a couple of conversations." That's been really fun, because the way that we do it, to be completely honest, we just … 15 minutes before we go upstairs, it's like, "What are we talking about today?" It just becomes a conversation, which is really nice, and allows us to go …

Aaron Jannetti:
I think the commitment of the time, and the space is what really brought it all together, but, really, just our background together, and the way that we can just have conversations, I think, is what really allowed us to bring it full swing. If it was if it was two people that didn't know each other, and we were forcing the conversation, I think it'd be a lot harder.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, I see a lot of the shout-outs in Facebook groups, "I need a co-host to do this, that, or the other," and it's like, "No … That's gonna be a failure." [cross talk] about five episodes … Isn't gonna work. Isn't gonna work at all.

Brett Johnson:
Really, it's probably very lucky that you had a failed initial attempt with podcasts, because I think a lot of podcasters go into this, like, "Interviews … Oh, interviews. That's a perfect … There are tons of people I can talk to [cross talk]" and such, but it does become a hassle, because you're also working with someone else's schedule to interview them. Granted, yes, there are a lot of people … I think your idea for interview makes a lot of sense, and still could implement that in what you're doing right now, but not as a total, I think, podcast-

Aaron Jannetti:
Right. That's all we had. That was … That was the premise of the podcast [cross talk] but you live, and you learn.

Brett Johnson:
Right, exactly. You live and learn. It would work, but at the same time, it wasn't enough energy for you to keep it going, as well, where now you're seeing you can walk in 15 minutes before a podcast, and you crank out a half hour [cross talk]

Aaron Jannetti:
We started trying to keep it at 20 or 30, and lately, man, we've been going an hour, just because the conversation's very natural.

Brett Johnson:
Why stop it? Exactly. If you feel that, and you're getting the feedback from your listeners, you never stop. Do not hit stop … You can always edit later on, but don't stop it. Exactly. As co-hosts, how do you handle duties, I guess you could say? What's your part; what's your part, in regards to putting the podcast together? Is it equal, or …? [cross talk]

Aaron Jannetti:
-you're looking at me. Right now, for the most part, we're doing a lot, but it's … We're still very minimal. We already have- Drew already has his outlets, and mailing lists, and content followers to Project Lift. We have the same through Endeavor, and what I do..

Aaron Jannetti:
Right now, designated time slots – we both are there; we both record; the equipment's already up there. Then, really, I've already got the templates. Right now, we're using just GarageBand. We keep it very simple. I've got the templates already put together, and it's pretty much drop …

Aaron Jannetti:
Again, I think it just- the way that we are, and the way that we talk, and even the way we talk with our clients, and things like that, it's just one take. We allow the screw-ups, and the blurbs that go in here, and let it be a more natural conversation, front to back. The entire editing process, once the soundcheck goes through, and it sounds good through the mics, is pretty much clip, clip, stick it [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Makes it a whole lot of your session, doesn't it? It really does … Just allow it to happen; maybe occasional flub here, or there. Everybody has a brain fart, occasionally. You're just going to, but do you let it in or not? It's one personality. It happens in real life. Okay, we'll just let it happen.

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah, and again, I think that comes … The demographic, and what you're talking about is gonna matter, but the whole entire thing is about being able to make mistakes, getting better, and all that kinda stuff, so, I think it just fits.

Aaron Jannetti:
The editing process, if we're being completely honest, for me, is five minutes. That's me actually looking at it. Once I hit export to an MP3, it's pretty simple there. I do the edit; I drop it onto the page; do the show notes, which I like listening back to 'em anyway, so, I do the show notes. Then, I'm doing Instagram stuff. We're not doing a lot.

Aaron Jannetti:
When we start … I know we wanna start doing some mailing lists, and some other things that'll grow off on it. That's his territory. That's where he … He's better at the trickle campaigns, and understanding sales funnels, and leads, and things like that. I'm content-straightforward guy [cross talk] that goes-

Drew Dillon:
Great at content, though.

Aaron Jannetti:
I'm handling the Instagram, and Facebook stuff right now. He's gonna start doing the more … You talk about how it's gonna maybe benefit the business. That's gonna be more … I'm creating the presence. He's gonna take care of that.

Brett Johnson:
Let's dive into that a little bit … You're at the beginning stages of email, and newsletter, and Yelp marketing, and such. Talk about what's in your head; what you're thinking about doing to … As this is a piece of it.

Drew Dillon:
Right now, right outta the gate with Instagram, and the Facebook that Aaron's been doing, and even with our mailing list around members … Thinking of that, not even in the whole big span of the community around us, or the world – the benefit to the business – I found extremely interesting how many conversations it's brought up.

Drew Dillon:
Again, these conversations are typical conversations we're having with athletes and coaches about getting better. Now, it's this other outlet that's on their time frame. I don't have to sit down with them, at the desk, and schedule a meeting with them, or a call with them, and have this conversation. They can listen to it when they want and.

Drew Dillon:
Then, all the sudden, they're coming in, and bringing it up. From a business standpoint of helping the business, with the members that we have currently, it's continuing to help them solidify their foundation to be successful at training towards whatever their goal is. That's been instrumental.

Aaron Jannetti:
That's on both sides. That's …

Brett Johnson:
Wow.

Drew Dillon:
Yeah, that's been … It's interesting, because going into it, that wasn't necessarily my thought. My thought was a new audience; finding new people, and that. Right outta the gate, in these first … What are we? 11-12 episode live?

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah … Today we just released 11.

Drew Dillon:
That's out there, just the feedback from the members, and the audience we already have … Yu can feel it strengthening it. It was like, okay, that … I didn't expect that. That's really neat.

Drew Dillon:
Looking forward, or continuing, We played with the idea of a book club. Looking at what we're talking about, I'm an avid reader. Aaron's an avid reader. The more we just continued digging into that, that was our first … "Hey, okay, well, let's see if we can't create a group – an audience – around 'Hey, I'd like the habit of reading more,'" and giving them something that could cause- could put a little skin in the game on holding to that habit. We'll curate the books; we'll curate the conversation, and put something together. We're still with that.

Drew Dillon:
Even looking at our list, outside of what we currently have, like members currently in our facilities … Starting to get them more opportunities; get that out there. What I've been playing with, at the very beginning, is I'll write a bit; if you're familiar with Seth Godin, and his short style … It's almost like a thought.

Drew Dillon:
What I've been really playing with, recently, in the last few months, with the podcast, is one member asked me the other day, he goes, "When you write those little blurbs, who are you writing to?" The secret is I'm writing to myself … I'm not thinking of somebody else, actually; I'm typically thinking of me. When you have this problem, or when you have this challenge, or you've been struggling with this thought … I'm calling myself out.

Drew Dillon:
I think it's really interesting how many people have related to the language towards myself, but it's not towards anybody else. Continuing to do that around that the subject matter of the podcast, and then letting that be the tie in of, "You wanna take that deeper? Here's something you can listen to." That's been the seeds I've been playing with right now, looking at how we're gonna continue to trickle, and pull and maybe some other mediums, as well, that could work.

Brett Johnson:
Right. To me, it looks as though, and sounds as though the podcast, itself, is just an extension – as podcasts are – an extension of yourselves. You're already doing this in your facilities. You're talking to these folks; they're giving you feedback. They're willing to even download an episode, while they're working out, possibly, to get pumped up. At least, they're the weaknesses, that day, you helped fill a hole for them. It's like, "Wow, he hit the spot that day. That's what I needed."

Aaron Jannetti:
We've had a lot of those conversations. The one that cracks me up all the time is we'll have people that'll come in, and they'll be, "Yeah, I listen to your podcast. It's actually good." You look at 'em, and go, "Wow, thanks. I appreciate that your original thought was that this is gonna be terrible."

Brett Johnson:
Right. Exactly.

Aaron Jannetti:
"I'm glad you took the leap …" I think one of the things that's really important to us … Yes, we talk about this all the time, but, yes, we're a business. We have to make money. That's the way it is, but, we wanna do that through bringing you value. We want to [inaudible] actual trade off. I think one of the things that's super-important for us to understand, and I've looked at this a lot more over the last maybe four or five years, is that long game.

Aaron Jannetti:
We talked about this on one of the most recent episodes, but the concept of a reputation. What's the reputation of the business? You don't build that reputation in one year, or two years, or, honestly, even three, like a true-true-true reputation. What we've started figuring out is the last two years that we've been open, especially at Endeavor, and I know it's happening with Project Lift, because I even hear the conversations, but, we're getting a lot of, "Hey, I've heard about you," or, "Hey, I heard this about you," or, "Hey, I'm not happy with what's going on with the situation I have now, and for years, I've heard that this is the way you guys do things."

Aaron Jannetti:
To me, with having the podcast out there, and having it related [inaudible] is now, when they're listening to that, they're going, "Oh, wow. These guys …" First off, I know exactly what I'm getting into. If I walk into this place, this is not just the technical aspects of it, and things like that, but I know the mentorship, the leadership, the community that's coming out of this isn't superficial, and I think that's important, in and of itself.

Aaron Jannetti:
They can also look at it, and go, like, "Wow, I'm gonna go to this facility, and I'm not just getting physical fitness." The reality of it is we've talked about this before, but, to be physically fit, you really just have to be consistent. Yes, there's better and worse, but anybody can coach relatively well from a technical aspect.

Aaron Jannetti:
The difference is how are you building relationships with the athletes? How are you adjusting to not just their physical issues? We were talking about chiropractors, and tweaks … What's your mood today? You should adjust your program, and the way you approach a class, and the way you approach recovery, and rest not just based off of the physical aspects, and the physiological, but the psychological. Where's your emotional state?

Aaron Jannetti:
You might need two … CrossFit's real big on times. You're looking to hit faster lifts, and hit more weight, and do things faster. People get bogged down by that. It's a really, really good way to motivate people, and to push people, but they forget that, realistically, sometimes, it doesn't matter.

Aaron Jannetti:
Some people need psychological … You might be perfectly fine, physically, but you're breaking down because of these things … You need to lay off for a week or two, and take half the weight off the bar, or do half the reps; just do it for fun. Remember, this is a fun-type thing. I think they start realizing that that's the difference between …

Aaron Jannetti:
In our opinion, that's a difference between a good gym, and a great gym, or a good community, and a great community is that it's not … Anybody can show you how to do a clean and jerk relatively well. I say anybody with air quotes. The difference is what's the longevity – physically, emotionally, psychologically? How do I feel about the tribe that I'm surrounded with?

Aaron Jannetti:
I think the podcast is allowing that more and more. People are stunned to realize it's … This is a completely different experience that I'm about to walk into than what I perceived from watching 10 YouTube videos of people killing themselves, doing a snatch, or something along those lines.

Aaron Jannetti:
I've I found that interesting, over the last 11 weeks, where I'm getting conversations through my other templates; people that are coming in for outside seminars. I travel a lot, and I do security consultations, and community events around the concept of surviving an active-killer situation, which is … It's a terrible, and depressing thing to have to run around, and talk about, but I'm getting contacts through that, that are going, "Oh, man, I caught two or three episodes of your podcast, and it's amazing to hear you talk about these things, and the way you looked at it." It just changes. It helps build, again, that that reputation.

Aaron Jannetti:
I think, because we don't put a huge weight of planning, and a huge weight of following a certain structure, and we allow things to just go whatever's said, I think it allows that to … People start realizing it is actually genuine; we're not reading off of a list of stuff. These are just legitimate conversations.

Aaron Jannetti:
If you're looking at Endeavor, or you're looking at Project Lift – between all of the video content, we have the instructional material, we have the newsletters we put out, the articles that we write, and the podcast – you pretty much know exactly what you're getting before you ever had to walk through the door, if you wanted to take the time to actually research it. That's been a secondary benefit, which I think has been a really important one, because the conversations have been great inside the gym, but we've also- I've also gotten a lot of conversations from outside the gym.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, I can see where your podcast is that soft touch, and it allows them to be- you to be in their head, with their earbuds, at the time that they need your information, and such … I think a lot of businesses, and I've had consultations with businesses taking a look at what a podcast can, or can't do. They're looking at it as a quick fix, very quickly, and it's not.

Aaron Jannetti:
No.

Brett Johnson:
This is not a strong call-to-action type of medium, but over time, you'll win your listener over, because they need to learn you, as you go along. With exactly the tactic you're looking at … Let's just go in, and brainstorm 15 minutes, before we come on, but we know where we're going with it. Really, it just comes down to what's the topic this time, and do what we do outside of these four walls, anyway, and just bring it into the mic, and have fun.

Brett Johnson:
I think both of you coming together, listening to the episodes I have of yours, you're well-matched. You play off each other great. I think that's key to it, as well, too. Having a co-host is great, because I've done solo. I'm not great at solo; I'd rather do co-host, but you've got to find the right person to sit with you to do that. Match up schedule, as well as you don't want them to be necessarily a nodder, and say, "Yeah, I agree. I agree." No, you gotta add a little bit – a different life perspective, and such, too. Exactly..

Brett Johnson:
I wanna go back to that- the book club idea, which I love. I love the idea, and I think it's probably a little bit of why you went with Podbean, which is your platform you're using to support the podcast, or to disseminate, and such. How did that come about, initially? Was that right outta the shoot, "We're gonna do a book club. This makes sense. Let's go with the platform," or did it evolve into it?

Aaron Jannetti:
That was pretty much his idea.

Drew Dillon:
Yeah-.

Brett Johnson:
I love it.

Drew Dillon:
I think it was at the beginning of … What's something that relates that could add value, and let's try an idea – is there interest out there? With that goal … I think it's funny, too, at the time, a friend of ours, James Clear, had just released a book called Atomic Habits. I had just read that book; I know Aaron had just read that book, and just looking at-.

Aaron Jannetti:
Just to clarify, I listened-

Drew Dillon:
He listened to that [cross talk] That's true. The thing that was really just on our minds in the moment was looking at who we're helping. How can we provide some value around helping them start that habit? If you'd like to read more, if that's a goal of yours, then become part of this, and we can take you down that. Then, it was just a test; let's toss it out there, see if there's interest, and continue morphing off that.

Brett Johnson:
I think you're dealing with the same type of audience that, if you're willing to invest 30, 40, 50, an hour of their time with you, they probably are willing to spend that time with a book, too.

Yeah, and the one thing is, books … I know for a fact that books have completely changed the way I've approached business, life, relationships, and everything. Again, not every book is great, but we've … Between the two of us, we have a stable of books that I know that I can always go back to. I want to read through them again, and again, and again.

Aaron Jannetti:
One of the ones that always pops up for me is just Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People." I usually listen to that at least once a year. It was such an impact on my life, and I know for a fact, it's been …

Aaron Jannetti:
Books, and reading have been an impact on his life, so, I think it was a natural progression, anyway, because honestly, half of our episodes, we're always going, "We picked this up from this area, and this is who we got this from, and this is the book that we read.".

Aaron Jannetti:
What essentially we ended up doing was if we're going to one book a month, what do we think are the 12 most important books to get people along the way. Then, it's that journey, and track. The beautiful part of it, is it's really just turnkey for the listener, because it's … They pay 30 bucks a month, we ship the book directly to their house, and then, they have access to the episode, where we essentially put out an exclusive episode that only they get access to. It just breaks down what we took away from the book; not saying it's right, or wrong. It was just like what are the lessons that we picked up? How did it help us?

Aaron Jannetti:
It's also like a, for lack of a better term, a guide to navigate in the book: what are the things you should be looking for, and paying attention to? The one thing we tell them is, "You listen to this podcast, read the book, and then come back, and be like, "What did we miss?" because there's probably stuff that we missed; call us out on it.

Aaron Jannetti:
It allows not just the opportunity for them to get value, and not just an opportunity for them to learn, but we really want engagement. We don't want to just get on there, and be talking out, and everybody'd be like, "Oh, yeah, you guys are doing a great job." We want- what are your stories? You've challenged something we said. It's the only way that any of us learn.

Aaron Jannetti:
It's another opportunity for us to engage with them, as opposed to it just being a one-sided conversation, where they're just a fly on the wall, listening to Drew and I talk about our issues. We'd rather them be like, "Hey, have you guys ever thought about this?" or, "Hey, this is my story that related to that." Again, it just allows us a little more personal opportunity to do that.

Brett Johnson:
You have one of the more unusual names for podcasts. I do wanna … Obviously you can pick it up on the intro episode [cross talk] … We can go back to the intro episode, and you can understand exactly where he came from, but I wanna introduce that here, as well, too, in this podcast of talking about the title of your podcast. I'm not just gonna skirt by it. I think it's important because … I didn't bring it up initially, because I wanted the listener to hear where you're going with this podcast, and now bring it back home, going, "This is why we named it this way." Talk about that.

Aaron Jannetti:
I'll let you start that one off.

Drew Dillon:
When we first thought of names, it was a conversation at Stauf's. We were sitting there having a coffee. My goodness, I think I had just finished Seth Godin's marketing seminar; fantastic marketing seminar. Looking at a name that is unique, that, one, doesn't really have a bucket in the mind.

Brett Johnson:
It's almost code.

Drew Dillon:
Yeah, it's-.

Brett Johnson:
If you know it, you know us sorta thing, almost … Yeah.

Aaron Jannetti:
Pretty much.

Drew Dillon:
It's something that we can relate to; something we can own. Then, looking at, okay, what's this about? Our definition, our boiled-down, is "A little better each day." When you look at Kamiwaza as a name, and you look at the Japanese translation of godlike technique … Okay, the godlike technique, to us, is improvements every day. It's not perfection, but it's the pursuit of getting better each day.

Aaron Jannetti:
Don't get me wrong … Just like anybody else, we went through [cross talk]

Drew Dillon:
We had a few.

Aaron Jannetti:
-a stage of names.

Brett Johnson:
I bet. Sure.

Aaron Jannetti:
We were holding it, too, like he's talking about, out of that marketing seminar with Seth Godin … The little pieces of it, like does it pique interest? Is it something that, when you Google it, where does it stand. Is it gonna get flooded with 50 other things that you're gonna be battling against? Then, also, does it essentially, in the end of the world, embrace whatever it was?

Aaron Jannetti:
We came up with a couple that we were playing with, and just like everybody else … I'm pretty sure anytime, anybody names anything, they at least go back to Greek history, or Latin, in some form. We went through the Gordian Knot, and plays off of that, and some other things. It was interesting, because Seth Godin is a guy that that him and I both follow very well, and anybody smart that I follow, I have to admit, Drew has turned me onto them, in some form.

Aaron Jannetti:
He talks about Kamiwaza in several of his conversations, and videos, and several of his books. I remember that sticking out, and I think that we went down there, and then we did our history, or background check on it. It doesn't pop up. There's a video game from Sony from regular PlayStation, whatever. It wasn't successful but … It fit.

Aaron Jannetti:
Then, the more, and more, and more you look at it, it really does … The way that we look at everything is this in-depth "I wanna learn more, I wanna learn more; I wanna get better, I wanna get better." If I'm gonna do anything, I wanna be really good at it.

Brett Johnson:
Perfect. Well, again, that's why I left it til last, because I think what you said before lines up. It's like, "Oh, now I get it. Now I understand why it's called that …"

Aaron Jannetti:
It's also fun to have to say … The very first thing out of your mouth. I'm pretty sure I screwed it up on half the episodes.

Drew Dillon:
You actually self-corrected yourself in this last recording [cross talk] I think you said it right.

Aaron Jannetti:
-wait a minute. Is that right? Yeah, it's Kamiwaza [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
Let's talk about future plans for the podcast. As you mentioned, you're a dozen or so in, but that shouldn't stop you from thinking of what you're gonna do with number 100, that sorta thing. What are you thinking about?

Aaron Jannetti:
We're staying two ahead, at the moment. We released 11 this morning, but we recorded 13 last night. We're two ahead, and I would love to … I think we can both agree, we'd love to stay at least two ahead, if not more. Him and I do travel sometimes, and we get out, so there's one or two bumps in the road that are gonna come up, and we wanna make sure we stay ahead of that.

Aaron Jannetti:
I think the deeper we get into this … I think every time you get into a new project, you have to envision number 100, but the further, and further we get into it, I can see number 100 … We never run out of topics. Every week that we come in, and we say we want to talk about this one thing, but we have four others we wanted to talk to …

Aaron Jannetti:
I already have- I have a list of topics that I think is almost 23 long, and that's just starting. Then, the more conversations we have with instructors, and everything like that, they're asking questions. I'll go, "Well, that's an episode in itself." We've, in the middle of episodes, been like, "We could go down this road, but that's an episode in itself." We've got … I don't see the end of it coming any time soon.

Aaron Jannetti:
It plays off of what the podcast is, because it's continually improving. Heck, number 100 could be a review of episode number one, where we've changed our mind on five of the things we've done, or we've done something differently …

Aaron Jannetti:
In the long run, I don't think we've talked about completely long-term, like exactly what that looks like, but I would imagine it … Us just keep chipping away, and chiming, long as there aren't … We stay ahead, and we're both in the same location, it's relatively easy there. Maybe there's a five-week break here, and then a review of some other ones; maybe it changes down the road, and we're doing reviews of books, and other things that go …

Aaron Jannetti:
As far as that goes, I see 100. I see 200. I love Andy [Frisella], but, if he can make it to whatever, like 210, I feel like we can. .

Drew Dillon:
I just see continuing to grow an audience. Where our first thought was a new audience, and how the first 12 has really helped galvanize the audience that we currently have … Continuing to just get better at finding the new audience; getting in front of the new audience.

Drew Dillon:
I mentioned my buddy, James Clear before. One thing that I keep in mind – I think it'll help everybody listening – is James' book, "Atomic Habits," hit the New York bestsellers list. It's his first book. You think like, "Man, all right. Knocked it out of the park on his first one," [cross talk] Right?

Drew Dillon:
The thing is, he's been writing to an audience since 2011, I believe; 2011/2012. Now, when he started, before that, he's told me, "Oh, you know, I was actually writing a journal. I just got up the nerve to actually put it out there." He's writing, and he's writing, and all he did was make a goal of consistency. He goes, "I'll publish on Monday, and Thursday, every week, and I won't miss."

Drew Dillon:
He's doing that, and he's doing that, and he's doing that, and nothing's happening, nothing's happening, nothing's happening. It got to the point where he was kinda like, "Man, am I just wasting my time?" He said about eight months in, he goes boom … First one just went viral.

Drew Dillon:
At that point, and then on, I know he's really built up a good network of internet entrepreneurs, so he gets to see some of the behind-the-scenes of how are people's audiences growing, and whatnot. Within his networks. he realized he had one of the fastest-growing lists, in the sense of he grew to a quarter-million people following him within 14 months … Unheard of.

Drew Dillon:
In our discussion over coffee, as he's telling me, he goes, "Within the first eight months of nothing happening, what it taught me was, one, I'm the worst … We're the worst judges of our own work. What I thought was great biffed, and what I thought wasn't very good, took off … The other thing, too, looking at the eight months of me just shipping, I got better. When I first started, I wasn't that great of a writer. You might not … You're not a horrible writer. I was decent, I guess, but eight months in, I was a lot better than day one."

Drew Dillon:
His message, and we talk about consistency a lot, and looking at this podcast, is letting ourselves keep doing that. Holding on to the consistency, because by episode 50, episode 100, we're gonna be a lot better than we were at episode one.

Aaron Jannetti:
We already are … Even just in the basics of it, like understanding how to adjust the freakin' sound levels; what mics [cross talk] edited?

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Even having a conversation with yourselves, on mic, it totally changes it, once you have a mic in front of you, rather than a cup of coffee, because you you're recording.

Aaron Jannetti:
Oh, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
Without stepping on each other, without allowing the other person to finish their thought, but still hold your thought in your head, it's practice.

Aaron Jannetti:
Oh yeah [cross talk] You can tell that. I think we were two episodes in … I can't remember; it was two or three that we had released, and I literally sent him a text; I was like, "Dude, I talked for 20 straight minutes, and you didn't get a word in …" You build that awareness, and you understand that give and take. It's just- it's reps. It's reps and practice on everything. 50 in, we'll be that much better, and 100 in, we'll be that much better.

Drew Dillon:
I'm extremely confident in the subject matter. It can help that foundation … I find it really fun, because a lot of our conversations, I walk away thinking of something that we were talking about in a different way.

Drew Dillon:
That's, I think, the other interesting thing is we're talking about helping people build their foundation. When you're on a podcast, or when you're writing, at what point does someone give you that expert status, where it's like, "Oh, well, they're the subject-matter expert, because they're talking into a mic about it"?

Drew Dillon:
How often that stops us from getting in front of a mic, but then, also realizing that through this process, there's been a-has, and growth between us, of just going, like, "That went a route that I don't think I'd thought about before." It's growing ourselves, as well as hoping that the audience can take those lessons, and run with them, too, and just continuing to grow that community.

Aaron Jannetti:
Last night was a prime example of it. We went in … Last night's topic for episode 13 was sum cost. In my mind, again, the 15 minutes before we went up there, I had a completely different idea of how this episode was gonna go. We went five different ways, and where I'm going, that's not how I looked at sum cost. Holy crap, it's a completely different view. It now allows me to open up a pathway to see other things in a different light. It literally just was us hashing things out. He sees it different, I see it different, and we're able to actually talk back and forth about that.

Aaron Jannetti:
I know for a fact, I've learned over these 13 episodes, so it's … Yeah.

Brett Johnson:
You've gotten very lucky that you had your listening audience, your clients now, initially, give you feedback immediately.

Aaron Jannetti:
Oh, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
You're connecting with them. That's huge. Everyone that podcasts wants that, "Is somebody listening to this?" You can look at the download numbers; you can see that, yeah, I do see people are "listening," but the feedback is never usually there for a while. You got it pretty quickly, which is great.

Aaron Jannetti:
That's the thing that I that I think is interesting, too, because we see them face to face. Most of these conversations are taken face to face … They're not leaving a comment, or writing a message. It's when we see you face to face, we're gonna have this conversation. That makes me think, too, how many people have thought the same exact thoughts, but they just aren't gonna take the time to write it down; but they're not gonna see us face to face; they're not gonna have that conversation. If we didn't have that immediate feedback, face to face, I'm pretty sure half of the conversations we had, nobody would have ever written it on the board, would've never sent it through a message.

Aaron Jannetti:
That's an interesting point that I hadn't even really thought about, until you brought it up, where we are in that position, where people can go, "Hey, I listened to your podcast last night." If they don't say anything, I can call 'em out, and be like, "What'd you think?" [cross talk] look 'em in the eyes. "Really? Because you've been here for two years, and I know for a fact you needed that episode."

Brett Johnson:
Without calling you out in the podcast …

Aaron Jannetti:
"I was literally thinking about you while talking about this …"

Brett Johnson:
If you play it backwards, we'll say your name five times, right? Advice for a business owner walking into this idea of a podcast, especially in your industry. What's some advice you would give them?

Aaron Jannetti:
First thing I would say is just do it.

Drew Dillon:
Start.

Aaron Jannetti:
Really, that's the big thing. Again, to pull one from Seth Godin; in one of his books, he talks about set a deadline, and no matter what happens at the deadline, you send it; no matter how good it is, because we're pretty much our own worst enemies. That's a big one.

Aaron Jannetti:
Not to, again, just throw books out there, but, "The War of Art" is a fantastic book by Steven Pressfield. It's that. If you've thought for two seconds that you might enjoy the platform, or the medium of going over the mic, then just do it.

Aaron Jannetti:
Don't try to make it perfect. You don't need to spend five grand to set up a studio. Just sit down, and start talking. Then, you'll get good at that. You'll start getting good at the talking part … You might. You might find out it's not a good mix. You can always upgrade your mic. You can always upgrade your facility, and you can always get better at it. It doesn't need to be perfect. Just do it, and see what happens.

Aaron Jannetti:
I think that's a big lesson that … That applies to everything, but as far as talking to people directly about possibly doing podcasting, just do it. If it does awesome after six months, great. If you find yourself more tired by the idea, and you're not fueled by it, then, hey, at least you gave it a shot, but you have to give it a shot, and get it out there before you can ever make that decision.

Drew Dillon:
Yeah, and I think a lot of times, even when you do start, and create, it's six months down the line, if you're like, "Okay, this isn't the thing," I think what you've created will still add value, if you keep it on the website … A new client come in, and you look, and go, "Oh, man, okay, over the course of six months, I did 30 episodes, and honestly, I feel these five really could be valuable for someone new," when they sign up, send those five to 'em, like, "Hey, other members have found these valuable. You're welcome to listen." The only thing that could be happening there is you're galvanizing that relationship of media that you've already created.

Brett Johnson:
All right. What's the best place to find Kamiwaza?

Aaron Jannetti:
The web page, which is going to direct you pretty much directly to our Podbean site, but is Kamiwaza.co … KMI … KA … See, I'm screwing it up again. K-A-M-I-W-A-Z-A dot co. {kamiwaza.co). The podcast is on all your major outlets. It's on Spotify; it's on iTunes; it's on Google; it's on Podbean; it's on Stitcher. You can find it all there.

Brett Johnson:
If they're not going to either of your places, how can they reach you to give you a comment about, "Hey, this really touched me. Could you cover this?" What's a good way of getting a hold of you?

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah, for sure. On the Podbean site … I'm pretty sure it pushes off to everything else, but we do have all of our contact information. Stuff for Endeavor's on there; stuff for Project Lift is on there. You can always find me at … Well, pretty much online, JannettiAaron, pretty much on everything – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. It's the same exact ID there. Aaron@EndeavorDCF.com is the email, if they wanna reach out to us directly, or reach out to me directly. They can also get a hold of the podcast directly at Kamiwazapodcast@gmail. That's a really easy way. Then Project Lift, as far as that goes?

Drew Dillon:
Yeah, we've got Project Lift. You can find … Unfortunately, on Instagram, and whatnot, it's a weird spelling; I think we had to leave out [cross talk] something, we had to leave out a letter-

Aaron Jannetti:
It's the E. It's like, P-R-O-J-C-T, or something like that-

Drew Dillon:
It's sad that I'm literally going, "I'm not sure which letter it is," because when I write it down, I pull out my phone, and look. I'm like, "Okay which one is it?" [cross talk]

Brett Johnson:
It's like your phone number – why do you have your phone number in your phone? You don't call yourself.

Drew Dillon:
Me, personally, drewdillon, all one word, on all the major outlets. I've been able to grab … Dillon is spelt with only one "I." D-I-L-L-O-N. A lot of people like to add an extra I, and then, like, "I can't find. What's wrong?" I'm like, "It's one "I"."

Aaron Jannetti:
They add letters to yours; they take letters off of mine. Yours, just to let you know-

Drew Dillon:
Thank you.

Aaron Jannetti:
-is missing the E, and has an underscore. It's P-R-O-J-C-T underscore Lift. (Projct_Lift). You're welcome.

Drew Dillon:
Thank you. That works.

Brett Johnson:
I'll have all those connections in the podcast show notes, too. I always like to give a verbal shout out, for the sake of … So it gets in your head twice, when you look around. Good.

Brett Johnson:
I appreciate you guys coming in to talk about this podcast. I, again, thank Dr. Richard Ulm, at Columbus Chiropractic, for putting us together, too-

Aaron Jannetti:
We have all of his acronyms right after his name …

Drew Dillon:
Who? The Alphabet?

Brett Johnson:
The Alphabet … He's Doctor Google [cross talk] No, I appreciate him connecting us, and I'll tell him a big thank you, next time I see him, which I'm sure will be soon. I might get injured doing something stupid. Anyway, good luck with the podcast. I know we'll connect up, again-

Aaron Jannetti:
Appreciate it. Thank you.

Brett Johnson:
-but, great interview, and I appreciate your insights on what you guys are doing with this … Actually a lot more in-depth than I was expecting. Again, you never know until you go through the interview. Like wow, yeah …

Brett Johnson:
Not that I don't expect people to put thought into the podcast. It's always interesting to see what thought was put into the podcast, because it's sometimes not that evident, listening. You don't know until you see a rhythm, until you see years [cross talk] what's going on with it. It's interesting that you have that deep of thought about this podcast, so early in, which I think will get you to episode 100, 150, 200 [cross talk]

Aaron Jannetti:
We'll have to come back at episode 100.

Brett Johnson:
That's gonna be on my calendar. I'm gonna keep a look at it [cross talk] That's another conversation I'm getting there.

Aaron Jannetti:
Yeah, all truth.

Brett Johnson:
It is, honestly. really is. It really is. Well, again, thanks. I appreciate it.

Aaron Jannetti:
Thanks for having us [

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In this episode I interview Drew Dillon, co-owner Project Lift, and Aaron Jannetti, co-owner Endeavor Defense & Fitness about their joint effort Kamiwaza Podcast.

So how to do two people who own two different businesses come together and produce a podcast that benefits both businesses? Listen to find out!

https://www.project-lift.org/
https://www.endeavordcf.com/
https://www.instagram.com/kamiwazapodcast/

Recorded in Studio C at the 511 Studios in the Brewery District, downtown Columbus, OH.