The Successful Encore Career

I speak with Dr. Carol Ventresca, ED at Employment For Seniors about just that. With its first episode published in January of 2017, The Successful Encore Career Podcast has been a shining example of what non-profits can produce and utilize in their content creation.

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

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Brett Johnson:
Well, Carol, thanks for being a part of this podcast. I appreciate it. I've been wanting to do this with you for a long time, just syncing up schedule and me remembering to ask you to be a part of this.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, thank you for having me.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. Let's talk about Employment for Seniors a little bit, get a little prop, I think, that sets the table on why I wanted you here for this podcast to talk about a nonprofit doing a podcast.

Carol Ventresca:
Okay. Employment for Seniors is a 47-year-old nonprofit in Central Ohio. We are serving mature job seekers who we consider to be 50 years of age and older in Franklin County and the surrounding counties, so it's a seven-county area. We provide services to those looking for employment, free of charge. We also provide some services to local employers, including job postings, free of charge. Then, we also have hiring events for employers, and there are slight charges for those. We've been doing this for 47 years. The uniqueness of Employment for Seniors is that anybody is eligible for our services as long as they're are at least 50.

Carol Ventresca:
We don't do income eligibility, we don't collect social security numbers, we just want to make sure that we can help people become the best possible candidate they can be through resources and guidance and direction on those job postings. For employers, we're trying to enhance their applicant pool so that they have a diverse pool that includes those who are older and they're not missing out on the incredible resources, skills, and talent that a mature job seeker is going to bring to them. Again, the only thing that a client needs to do to register with us is to call the office, which is 614-863-1219 to make an appointment, and we'll get you started.

Brett Johnson:
What's your background in history before coming to Employment for Seniors?

Carol Ventresca:
It's sort of an array of things, which are all peripherally employment related, but I'm not a licensed career counselor. I've been doing career counseling for over 30 years. I started out in the workforce with the State of Ohio with the Bureau of Employment Services. When I finished my PhD at Ohio State, I went back to Ohio State and did continuing education programs for older adult students for almost 20 years, and I was able to see the need of older adults needing to expand that lifelong learning, going back to school to make their job search and their career path better. That's sort of where I started focusing on those issues. I had also, as a grad student, been an academic advisor and a career advisor. I have been placing students on internships. I still help place students on internships 40 years later. Again, I'm not a licensed career counselor, but I've been doing career counseling for a long time, and I've been at Employment for Seniors for over 10 years now.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, that's right.

Carol Ventresca:
I know. It's amazing. Time flies when you're having fun, and we do have fun every day. That's the one thing about this job that I love. I'm learning something new, and I'm having fun every day.

Brett Johnson:
Well, there's a lot of seriousness to the job.

Carol Ventresca:
Oh, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
You hear the stories from the gamut.

Carol Ventresca:
Yes.

Brett Johnson:
And you don't want to dread coming in.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, and I think too, the message that I would have, if anyone who's listening today is a job seeker is, it doesn't matter that the front page of the paper says the economy is great, there is still a lot of difficulty in getting a job in today's market, particularly, for those who haven't looked for a job for a long time. The application process is very different, and without some guidance, you're out there just pounding the pavement or pounding your fingers on a keyboard and getting nowhere fast, and that's very frustrating. National statistics are still showing that those who are even, actually, over 45 are having a harder time finding a job, and for those into their late 50s and 60s, it could take two years to find a job comparable to what they had before.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Well, full disclosure before we walk into the nuts and bolts of your podcast, the podcast, Employment for Seniors, The Successful Encore Career Podcast is that I was, personally, at the very beginning of that, helped bring the idea together. I co-host a lot of the podcasts released. I'm there being a part of it, let's put it that way.

Carol Ventresca:
You are the guilty party in this conversation, yes.

Brett Johnson:
There you go. I kind of want to lay that groundwork ahead of time, but my point in not necessarily promoting some podcasts that I am a part of is that I love the story behind what the podcast has done for the nonprofit. I think it's a good story that a lot of nonprofits, I hope, can take note, and learn from, that it's very possible to do. Beginning with that, so let's talk about the process that we began, discussing a podcast, how that began and we're, obviously, today. I think it's a good story, you can tell the story; how it began, actually.

Carol Ventresca:
Yes. For listeners, Brett walked into my office and said, "Oh, yeah, by the way, I've started a podcast for you, and I've called it The Successful Encore Career Podcast," and my question to him was, "What's a podcast?" He sort of caught me by surprise. I kept trying to push it off thinking, "Oh, God, not one more thing on my list of things to do," but it really revolved around, too, our move, our office had to move, and we were in a situation which was fine in terms of client services, but we couldn't expand. We would never have been able to pull off a podcast in that situation, so finding new space really gave it birth.

Brett Johnson:
Right. I think that the story behind that is kind of taking a look at where you are, the physical space. Is there space that can be utilized that's off the beaten path that has some quietness to it that can be, not necessarily 100 percent dedicated to creating … Whether it's a podcast, video cast, whatever it might be, but media content, let's put it that way. If you have that space that can be utilized on a consistent basis, why not? I know we toured three or four different office spaces, and you did more than I did, but I was involved with a few places to take a look at. When we found the location that we did and that we are right now, I saw the room that we were going to use for a conference room and training room as well, and it caught my eye going, "This could work."

Carol Ventresca:
Absolutely. Let me also preface to say we didn't move because we were looking for podcast space, we moved because we had to. Our building had been sold, and so we had to find new space. We had intended to find some conference room or meeting room space if it would work out. When we walked into our present location, which is the First Commonwealth Bank building in Whitehall, it was perfect. It was perfect size, perfect, exactly what we needed, and we really wanted to have a designated training area, meeting area, which we can convert into podcasting in, literally, five minutes, so.

Brett Johnson:
Then, discussion did take a while between, obviously, the pains and gains of moving, but also realizing that room could be used multipurpose, and we had the discussions of looking at that room as, "Okay, we can use it as a conference room, but we also can use it for this, we can use it for this. We can also offer it to the community as a room to do this as well too, as a partner, that if they need something "off campus" to have a meeting in this conference room, or if they want to create a video cast or a podcast, let's open it up to them and have discussions.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and serve the local community, the Whitehall community, which is an incredible partner of ours, and their small businesses or large businesses. I think, too, that to think about podcasting as a training tool was something new. I mean, people use podcasts to get trained, but I don't know that organizations have thought of podcasting as a training tool. They're doing webinars, they're doing Skype, and all of those other kinds of things. But, when we talked about podcasting, we started out with this notion of telling stories about clients who have gone through Successful Encore Career changes, but why not, also, as that place that people could go to forever and get information on a particular job search topic?

Brett Johnson:
Right, and that dawned on me looking at just, literally, coming into the office one day and seeing these sheets of frequently asked questions, or these cool tip sheets that you give clients as they walk out. Well each one of those tips are a podcast because you dive in deep into what this means to network, what this means to even just put a photo on a LinkedIn page.

Carol Ventresca:
It really is a prime example of using the resources you have and just expanding them because those were, I mean, it's taken us years to put those tip sheets together. We have 20 of them or so, and they're critical information. We've always had those tip sheets available on the website, but it's a PDF. It's a flat file. Now we actually have voices connected to that information with further explanation.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, and easily for the counselors to mention, "Hey, we also have a podcast expanding on this. I only have 30 to 35 minutes with you today, until our follow up or whatever next steps you are going to take, but we have this library, a podcast you can … We talk to so-and-so expert about this, we talk to so-and-so expert about this, or we're bringing this one topic to life to listen to a little bit more than just a couple of sentences here.

Carol Ventresca:
I think, too, is it's another example that I can give to an employer who says older adults don't know anything about technology because guess what? We're using podcasting. We, as older adults, are creating a technology podcast, but also our clients, as older adults, are using them. We are not only utilizing the resources we have, one of the things that we do is to send out mass emails to clients, and we are including podcast highlights in those emails. When we're doing our hiring event, which I think we're going to talk a little bit more about later, we're doing podcasts with those employers, so it's a huge circle that we have created of enhancing the information that we give to our clients in a lot of different ways including using technology. Also, as an aside, when I gave testimony to our county commissioners earlier this year as opposed to inundating them with paper, I gave them a jump drive and said, "Yes, we know how to use technology and, by the way, here's my presentation and some of our podcasts on each of these jump drives for you," and so they got a chuckle out of it if nothing else.

Brett Johnson:
Well, that leads me to the next comment and question. Some factors that we discussed in measuring the success, the failure of what I term return on influence not just the ROI, Return on Investment. Yes, there is investment, of course, with this … A little bit of money, and we'll touch upon that as we move on to the podcast. I think that our influence, our success, has been huge in regards to creating this podcast, but number one, we get that look of like, "You have a podcast?"

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Oh, yes. The other nonprofits just stare and go, "What?"

Brett Johnson:
Well, and it ups your professional gain by having one because you do take the time to create one, and it represents the organization very well. We've covered, and continue to cover, the topics that are core to our mission, our vision, as well as helping our, you know, it moves our clients forward, we hope.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and it's interesting too. I was thinking about this topic about ROI. For us, it's almost not measurable because there's no cost to it. Other than the outlay of the original equipment, we are going into our third year, and so far it's been free, basically. Your time, my time, our guests time, but in that time, that sort of goodwill that we're building, it is strengthening our brand, and I think maybe that's one of the keys here is do what you know.

Carol Ventresca:
Maybe that's a lesson in creating a podcast is I didn't know the technology, but I knew the career part. You knew the technology and are learning the career part with me, but we are doing what we know, and so the ROI, I think, is huge but it's more … It's not numbers. There are numbers. We have sponsors, so there isn't dollars connected to it in terms of enhancing what we're doing, but it really is much more of the amount of goodwill that we're creating because we are allowing others to succeed with us and increase their brand. So, yes, we have a huge effort in creating and enhancing our own brand but, those what we bring with us, we're enhancing theirs too.

Brett Johnson:
Well, and it gives us the opportunity to talk to those that are experts in their field too. We have a whole series on LinkedIn and what to do with LinkedIn. Yes, other forms of content creation could have brought her to the table of maybe co-writing a blog, maybe doing a video series, maybe, but the comfort level that this podcast has created for us asking experts in their field to come in and talk about very specific pieces, rather than just hearing us talk about it, bringing someone in that knows about LinkedIn, knows about networking, has been fantastic. It's been enlightening in our world of contacts and HR have helped too to give our listener, our potential client or current client, a better view of what the reality is of looking for a job and how to approach it.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and it's enhanced the agency by tapping our volunteers, who are incredible HR professionals to not just give information to clients, but to build their own resumé of skills, and it's also helped our board members with promoting their agencies and their industries. So, I guess, too, along with do what you know is to make it a win-win for everybody.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about who we're targeting with the podcast. Initially, I know it was the target of our clients to help them and, you know, the name of it, The Successful Encore Career, was to bring a lot of, you know, try to bring in these folks that are over 50, maybe over 45 and have done the turn, have, whether it been let go, or they saw another career path and they've grabbed the horns and they did it. Because there are some nuances to that adult over 50 that are different than the 25-year-old doing the same thing, so we wanted to spotlight that, but it turned into more than that.

Carol Ventresca:
Oh, it has. To only do Encore Career changes, which are phenomenal, and I just mentioned, we wanted to do work stories. We wanted people to talk about their career stories, but to not do the other things would, I mean, we'd get tired of just doing career stories. We really have three themes, one of which is that notion of the career changer, how to successfully career change, but then we've done the second theme, which is how to be a great applicant, and that's where all of our tips are coming in. Talk about adding ROI, we supported Congressman Stiver's Veterans job fair last year and then created four or five podcasts off of that event and posted those through November, Veterans month.

Carol Ventresca:
It's all tips on how to really be a good job seeker. Folks have acted like job seeking is a very informal process, and it's not, so that's where we're at. We want you to be a good job seeker, and we're going to give you the formal tips on how to do it. What we didn't think was going to happen, and a real surprise is, all of this work we're doing with employers and, oh, my gosh, that has just bloomed and has been great fun and a wonderful benefit that we can give to employers who are coming to us with the jobs they have to fill.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, let's dig into that a little bit more. We're kind of, actually, doing it almost twofold in two different realms, and let's talk about the hiring events and how we're doing that.

Carol Ventresca:
It started where we were highlighting the employers who are coming to the career fair, and so we've already done two, and we're going to do our third career fair this year doing the live stream. Although you've gotten me into this mess, this is your payback is to sit for four hours and talk to people through the career fair, so it started there where we really started tapping into the employers and highlighting them. Then we created, because of our new space, we have the ability to have onsite hiring events at the E0mployment for Seniors office, and this came not just because we had the space but also because employers loved the career fair and they wanted us to do it more than once a year, which would be literally impossible.

Carol Ventresca:
It takes us six to nine months to pull that together, and there's no way we could pull two of them off. We also realized they needed an opportunity to do more hiring at more logical times of the year, not just once a year based on their hiring needs. Also, over and above everything, it is a service to employers. The hardest part of a job search is getting your foot in the door for an interview. How many times do clients fill out an online application, and they never hear from the employer?

Carol Ventresca:
They really just want to be able to tell their story to that employer, so by doing those on-site hiring events, the employer is there, ready to talk to them. It may only be a 10-minute interview, but it could be critical. We have one tomorrow, and we have 50 people registered, and they have gone, usually, from 10 to 30, so we're really interested to see how this is going to go. It could be a madhouse. We'll see. We hope we're ready. We preface these hiring events with a podcast from the employer, to my long-winded story.

Brett Johnson:
No, no. To go into why we are talking to these employers about their business is it's part of, again, the research tool that we continue to harp on our clients. Research the business that you want to go interview with, see if it's a match for you, see what they're all about, and we hope that these interviews with the businesses will give them a little insight about what the business is like. Then you have some common ground to talk … The culture is, what they, just dropping … I know that you do this, but hey, I heard the podcast, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly. It's finding out what the culture is like, not just the names of the jobs. The title of the job isn't going to tell you anything, and even the position description may not tell you anything, but the opportunity to hear that employer's voice and to really get a gist of what are they expecting? What are their assumptions on a great candidate? You know, what kinds of skills are we looking for? Position descriptions can be very vague, or they can be very misleading, so the more you find out about that employer and their expectations, the better you're going to be prepared to do a good interview, and this is ROI for the employer. We're charging them a fee to have this event at our office, but we are giving them this benefit of, literally, worldwide information about their company.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and we push it through our social media streams, we also give them a shortcut Bitly link to the podcast itself, too, that actually goes to our podcast platform, so we're really not necessarily promoting come back to our website, but it's easy access. It really is always focused about the client. Yes, we like to have the traffic to the website, of course, but we also know that our traffic to our website's pretty darn good anyway. The podcast obviously lends toward it but, I think, if we continue that focus on making sure the client has easy access to this information, we will win, and we do win with this.

Carol Ventresca:
Well, and I like the first question that you ask them is why do you work for this company? I mean, if you can hear why a recruiter works for a company, you're really going to get an idea of what to expect when you walk in the door as a new employee.

Brett Johnson:
Right, yeah. I asked that of one employer, and I've told you this story before too, but I thought it was an interesting answer that this young lady liked working there because of casual Fridays, that they had just … In this very old, established business, okay? You would probably think it's kind of stodgy there, I guess, but that she thought it was the coolest thing that they implemented casual Fridays, or at least bring back the dress code. I thought that was an interesting answer because there could be someone in their 50s or 60s that all their life, suit and tie, suit and tie, and they are very uncomfortable with casual Fridays. They may not want to work there.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, or they may be excited because, "Oh, thank goodness. I don't have to wear a suit again."

Brett Johnson:
Maybe.

Carol Ventresca:
You know, at least for one day a week.

Brett Johnson:
One way or the other, but you know a little bit of information before going into that, that hopefully helps you make a decision as the process goes along.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Again, if we focus on the podcast to be win-win for our clients, for the guest, for the agency overall, you're going to hit a good sweet spot. You're really going to have great information out there that's going to last awhile.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Let's go into talking about our recording schedule, our strategy, our process of even finding guests. We don't just throw this on the wall and see what sticks.

Carol Ventresca:
No.

Brett Johnson:
I would advise, again, this is a piece of the success of how this is going on. It's not all on my shoulders. It's not all on Carol's shoulders. Actually, we have two or three other people that do some input in regards to topics. We open it up to the volunteer counselors too. It's like, "Hey, any topics that you want covered that we're not covering, or you're hearing clients coming in and talking more about that we haven't, please tell us, and we'll cover that as well too." Let's talk a little bit about how we do it.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and I have to say that starting with our tip sheets was phenomenal because, again, we have 20 tip sheets, so resumé writing, interviewing skills, job fair strategies, that kind of thing, and we haven't even gone through all 20. We have a bank of ideas that are out there that we can use, but we have also kept a list. I keep a master list of who we have talked to, what the topic is, who's been included, when it's posted, and sort of what stream of thought it falls in. Since we created this, we have had a list of ideas.

Carol Ventresca:
For the most part, we have always had a content expert. We don't want it to be just us, but there are a few topics that I haven't found a content expert, so it's still on my list. I mentioned just a bit ago, I would love to find someone who can talk about the nuances of position descriptions. Job seekers always assume that an expert has written the position description. They had no clue that it was the secretary or receptionist who wrote the position description who has no idea what that job really does, so somebody to really get people thinking about how to read between the lines of a position description. I may be the only one who sees that issue, so it may end up being me as the content expert at some point in time. I don't know.

Brett Johnson:
From the eyes of Carol.

Carol Ventresca:
From the eyes of Carol, yes. An example is what does it mean to be an expert in Microsoft Office? Does that mean that you have to be an expert in Word, or you just literally need to know how to type, or do you have to know how to do pivot tables in Excel? I mean, that's one extreme to the other kind of thing, so those are the kinds of things. It's kind of twofold. Again, do what you know, but start sort of exploring and expanding. We have recently started a new series within our series called "What is it like to work in…?"

Carol Ventresca:
Our first one was just posted on logistics. It was phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal, and sort of a shout out to Jill. She did a great job. It was just posted. It's up there on our site, and it truly opened my eyes on what logistics was. It is not magic. Truly, it's not magic. It is something that people can work in. You don't have to be 20 and a Twitter expert to do logistics. Oh, in terms of scheduling, we sort of do it in batches. We come up with what are the next logical topics that we can go into. Maybe it has to do with the season or the time of the year or it's before expo or whatever and get those scheduled so that we're ahead. You don't ever want to be where, "Oh, my gosh. I have nothing to post, and it's going to be a month since I've posted kind of thing."

Brett Johnson:
Right, and couple that with experts that you know that you can interview, which is a great networking opportunity. That could be board members, it could be just professionals in the field, companies that you're working with already. All nonprofits work with businesses. I don't care what nonprofit you are, you are dealing with a business and, if for some reason they're tied in with you, there's an opportunity to talk to them about something, whether it's because why they're there with you as a nonprofit supporter or a piece of your mission or vision. We've done that too. We've taken a look at topics and say, "Yeah, we can talk about LinkedIn, but you know what? We have a person that can talk about that even better than we can because she deals with LinkedIn all the time," and this is a topic we really want to stress because we know our clients really aren't doing a lot with LinkedIn. I think we created a series of three about LinkedIn. We've created series on resumés and talking to different points of view on resumés.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and I think too, again, I really look at this as it's not just a podcast that's existing by itself. What are the other kinds of things we can do with it? For years, at our career expo … This is new. I just decided this today, so this is news for you … For years, at our career expo, we had a panel called "What do employers want?" It was a group of employers talking about what kinds of jobs they had open and what their expectations were on candidates and skills and all of that kind of thing.

Carol Ventresca:
We had a phenomenal podcast with five members of our board who are HR experts that talked about be the candidate an employer needs. Sort of being in the right place at the right time for the right job, and it was amazing, so we're going to change our career expo panel to be an extension of that, so we'll be able to, again, utilize the podcast, get people listening to it, come to that panel with questions. I think it'll be a great way to better serve the participants who come to our career fair.

Brett Johnson:
Anybody that's done any kind of research about doing a podcast, they've probably run across the, how do people find out about us doing the podcast? How do you promote it? That was a discussion we came with about this as well too, and I work with all my clients as well about this. We really didn't have a budget to really buy social media, to buy ads and such, which is a direction to go, of course. We took a look at okay, we have social media at our tips, we can utilize this. We really, probably, have been under utilizing social media because we didn't have much content to put on social media other than our events.

Brett Johnson:
The strategy behind social media is you just can't plop it up there and expect the world to go crazy because, "Oh, hey, I've been waiting for you guys to post something on LinkedIn forever. Thank goodness you did." The podcast really helped us consistently post information on social media, our discussions over which social media channel to work with. We knew there were, probably, three logical ones, and Facebook has been pretty good for us because it hits a couple of different audiences with events as well as anything important that's going on that has to do with our clients, but we knew we had to dive into LinkedIn a little bit more too. Let's talk a little bit about that, in your mind, too, why we chose those two to really go with.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well and, Facebook, because some of our events are more Facebook events like our 5k. I don't know that that's so appropriate for LinkedIn, but LinkedIn is huge for us, and we have a great following on LinkedIn, both my own page and the Employment for Seniors page. LinkedIn is the business social media. That's where people learn about jobs, so how could that not be our connector? So, we're really looking at how we look at LinkedIn and Facebook two ways, feeding into it, feeding out of it, so the podcasts are perfect.

Carol Ventresca:
If clients have questions, if they're asking us for things, kind of stirs the podcast pot, and can we somehow do it, satisfy their need there, or get that podcast information into the social media. Again, it is, it is enhancing our brand and letting people know that this information is there. The beauty, too, of social media and the podcast program is, yes, our target audience are mature job seekers, but everything we're putting on there is really good for any job seeker, and shout out to being on the Top 100 Employment Podcast programs for this year, so I guess we made that platform.

Brett Johnson:
Oh, sure, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, I think that's what has made the content so easy to do, really, is that we do keep in mind, yes, this is … We're going for an older adult with this, obviously, but really everything we're talking about is true to really almost every age.

Carol Ventresca:
It is, because job searching is … There are some definites you have to do in job searching.

Brett Johnson:
It's a job in itself, right.

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly, and it makes sense for all ages. It also makes sense for all geographic locations and, if we're talking about a resource in Central Ohio, we try to give other listeners an idea of where to go for that resource in their community because there is only one Employment for Seniors, but there are other programs that support older workers across the country, so we can provide them with that information. The other part of all of this too is, as I mentioned, we do mass emails to our clients. We have about 5,500 people on our email list who are regularly getting information from us, so we're using that as a vehicle to also enhance the knowledge of the podcast program as well as our other programs.

Brett Johnson:
We really weren't introducing any new social media to this, it just enhanced the content that we get put on social media, and I think that is probably the healthiest way without just over inundating you going, "Okay, I don't know about this I don't know this." Use what you're already using, and let the podcast give you more content.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, because for those listeners thinking about doing a podcast in your small nonprofit, you can't get any smaller than Employment for Seniors. We do not have a social media marketing expert on our staff. There are three of us, we work part time, we are serving anywhere from 500 to 1000 new clients a year, plus, as I mentioned, 5,500 on our current client list, and posting anywhere from 800 to 1000 jobs a year. We're already pretty busy over and above any marketing of any of our programs. In the hiring events I mentioned, we did 12 last year, we're gonna have at least 12 this year.

Carol Ventresca:
The career fair plus two other large fundraising programs or events that we have, there's not a lot of time to do social media out there, so this just was a blessing in disguise, and an answer to prayers of like how in the world, like, I don't have even five minutes to spend on LinkedIn and Facebook every day. In terms of other opportunities, we do use Twitter kind of, more as feeding information than actually reacting. In terms of the other social media platforms, we're not finding our clients there. We could do Instagram, we could do all those others, but I think we have had success in what we're using. When I see that we absolutely have to be on the others, then we'll go there.

Brett Johnson:
Right, exactly. We utilize the hosting platform Podbean, and I know that comes up a lot in regards to what platform, how do I, "Okay, I've created the audio, how do I get it into iTunes and Apple podcasts and Spotify," or wherever it might be. You threw this question back at me, it's like, "I don't know how to answer that question," so I can answer this question to why our nonprofit, why Podbean? There are a lot of options out there to consider that are fantastic hosting platforms, namely, I would suggest that if you're looking into this, use a hosting platform, don't do anything that's free because free doesn't last. You're going to lose control of that. Podbean worked for us because they do have a nonprofit level of per month pay. Ultimately, it really is going to, I think, Podbean right now is maybe at $9.00 a month or something as a nonprofit status. I think that fits within anybody's nonprofit budget of $9.00 a month.

Carol Ventresca:
As I said, get a sponsor. We have several sponsors of our podcast programs, and people are sort of in awe of it. We have also worked those podcast sponsorships in connection to other programs, and that has really enhanced all of our sponsorships.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, let's dig in a little bit more about it because I have a note that I wanted to expand on the sponsorship piece to that. I think the sponsorship of a podcast is doable, but I think it does have to be married to other things that a nonprofit does because the numbers are not going to be there, initially, and may never be there for your podcast to support just truly sponsoring the podcast. It's probably an ad on, a "package" that you do other events, but we're also going to include you as a sponsor of our podcast. I think that's the healthiest way of looking at it, just make it something big that they just can't turn down.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. For instance, I had one of our former sponsors and a former board member contact me and said, "Hey, by the way, I got a little bit of money to spend before the end of the year at the end of June. What do you need?" I'm like, "Cool. This is great," so we put together a multi-event sponsorship for her, which included in it, because of the nature of this organization, it focused on hiring, so we made a major sponsor of the career fair coming up, and part of that was them providing us with materials that we could give out at the Expo to the client, to the participants, and you're talking about five to six hundred people as well as publicity, but in turn then I said, "Why don't we make you the sponsor of the livestream podcast for that day," and as well as bring them also into the 5k, which they have sponsored in the past.

Carol Ventresca:
Having a multi-event sponsorship package for her took care of her need to spend this money before the end of the year, it certainly took care of my need in terms of helping us to enhance the programs that we have, it gets their name out to a lot of people, and it sort of, again, it was a nice little win-win, but bringing in a sponsor for the livestream podcast was new. We had never done … We'd done podcasting, in general, but now they're going to have a special sign there outside your little cubicle to do the podcast and saying so that entity will have a nice presence at the career fair.

Brett Johnson:
That's where you can't discount anything you do in regards to … Recognize that it's worth something to somebody. You brought up, too, the email newsletter that you put out. You have the numbers that are very respectable that a sponsor with a podcast and doing this and doing all the little things that you put together, would love to be a part of that email newsletter that you're reaching X amount of people. The social media posts, all the different things you can put together, all that put together is strong, that you're becoming another little piece of marketing for them as a sponsor but ongoing with the podcast series, so be creative.

Carol Ventresca:
Right, and be timely. I mean, had we tried to pull this off when I started at Employment for Seniors in 2009 in the middle of the recession, it wouldn't have worked. Somebody listening to the podcast, yes, but employers seeing the value, no, because they weren't hiring, so it's just try to time and utilize what's working really well because in two years that may not be a possibility, but the value of the podcast is. Regardless of when we taped them, they are going to be good in this economy or in a bad economy.

Brett Johnson:
We got very creative in what we did with the equipment, finding monetary resources, let's put it that that way, to up our game. We knew we wanted this to sound good from the get-go, but we also tied it into a lot of different nuances with Employment for Seniors, that it was not just a podcast. We want to do a podcast, and it's like, great, but what is that and, really, what is your goal with this? I'll let Carol talk a little bit more about how we gain the good equipment that we did get, and I think that's made a huge difference in regards to what we're doing.

Carol Ventresca:
Not only in terms of those sound value but in terms of the look of it. I mean, when somebody comes and sees the equipment we have, they're like, "Oh, they really are serious about this." What the funding request also did for me was to force me to really think through that this is going to be a serious program. This isn't a one and done. This isn't "I can't afford to buy thousands of dollars of equipment and not really have a plan in place," and so it really did help us to create the strategy for the podcasting, overall. It kind of started as a joke. I went to one of the state agencies and said, "Hey, by the way, I need some money," and they go, "Oh, yeah, talk to so-and-so. They have more than we do," so I said, "Oh, I'll see her this afternoon," and sort of as a joke said, "Oh, yeah, by the way, they said you'd have money to give to me," and she just looked at me really seriously and she said, "You know, put a proposal together, and let's talk about this because it sounds kind of interesting."

Carol Ventresca:
Good timing, we weren't asking for the moon, and we did really pull together a quick and dirty, but a good format for the expectation, and because we were already getting funding from this agency, they knew us, they knew we were being successful, they saw how we were going to pull it together within our other programs and what the potential was, and so they were willing to take the chance on us. It really did focus on a training room for older adult, so it's the room, per se, that got the funding, and the room needed this level of equipment, so it included podcasting equipment.

Carol Ventresca:
We have the coolest smart board from England and got it on a sale, literally, and a new video camera, new laptop, and then our part of it, the matched funds, got in the direct internet line, got in carpeting, got in lighting, that kind of thing, so we pulled it all together, and we really do a lot of training in that room. We have been doing, very successfully, getting great groups of clients coming in for workshops where we're using the smart board and the laptop. We've expanded our follow-up appointments with clients to do resumé reviews and practice interviewing using the video camera, but then too, then we were able to get the podcast equipment as part of it.

Brett Johnson:
Right, and explaining that the podcast is part of training. Whether it's a one-on-one situation, which the podcast is not necessarily we're having everybody in the conference room and they're listening to a podcast, but the conference room is creating a podcast that can be a training tool, is a training tool, for any client that we tell, "Go listen this specific episode, go listen to this episode," or just, in general, I think, if nothing else, we've seen that the hiring events become actually a great tool for new listeners to come in to the stream. Because, yes, it's very specific to a very specific date and time in a hiring event, but then all of a sudden it's a great little advertising tool that the podcast does exist, so we're bringing in new listeners with a totally different feel to this podcast with one episode at a time.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. I guess, too, to kind of expand on who our target audiences were for the podcasting, part of our stream of the employers that we're talking to employers includes also some of our funding partners because we're talking about issues of aging and how employment fits into that. We've talked to the age-friendly Columbus folks, we've talked to Central Ohio area Agency on Aging, we've talked to Franklin County Office on Aging, the groups that are pivotal to providing us funding work. We're going to, actually, have the Columbus Foundation in this week. They are pivotal to giving us the resources we need to give the resources to our client, so that's part of the beauty of us making the decisions on our podcast is we can bring in who we'd like to talk to.

Brett Johnson:
Right, yeah. What do you think the biggest challenges have been with producing the podcast? As the Executive Director, as a, at that time, board member, telling you, "We have a podcast we're gonna do"?

Carol Ventresca:
I've been to a lot of training programs that says be careful what you ask for.

Brett Johnson:
Of course, I presented it with ideas and the concept behind it, and you said, "Yes, that makes total sense. Let's explore this more," and we had many, many conversations. Beyond the beginning stages of the challenges, ongoing challenges, what would you say have been to keep it going?

Carol Ventresca:
I think I mentioned a bit ago that at Employment for Seniors we have fun every day, but we learn something new every day. We're always telling our clients to learn something new and to let employers know that you're a great job candidate because you are willing to learn. Well, guess what? It was my turn to learn. What is a podcast? What was needed? I'd been doing all types of interviews as the Director of Employment for Seniors, but to actually be in charge now of content over and above just my yearly visiting. Our buddy, Mark New, said WMNI saying, "Oh, the job fair's coming," you know, let's talk about that. It was a learning experience for me, which I'm greatly appreciative of for Brett holding my hand through the process and, needless to say, you don't give a PhD a mic and an open time frame because we just keep talking.

Carol Ventresca:
The first challenge really was not just to be comfortable in front of a mic, but to keep the conversation rolling. We started from the very beginning to make sure we had topics, and that has continued to be a challenge, but a good challenge. I don't think we've ever gotten to the point of there's nothing else to say. We've never gotten to that point. We have gotten to the point of making sure that we are scheduling it well, that it makes sense, that it's not a hodgepodge, and that it's flowing, but you have to be able to stay fresh. You have to be able to stay on the mark of what's relevant. You have to stay factual. I always tell folks, "You know, we can fix, we can edit out any mistakes, but we have to make sure we have a content expert who knows what they're talking about. We can't just have somebody come up and spiel old stuff."

Carol Ventresca:
I use the word newsworthy, but you had a better term and that's evergreen, that the information we're putting out there is going to last, it's going to be useful this year, next year, and probably the year after that. Over and above everything else, I think too, that to expand it outside of ourselves that, yes, it has to focus on Employment for Seniors and our clients, but to expand outside of realizing that there are content experts at other agencies, at employers, at community organizations, at governmental offices, wherever, that there are people out there that we can use, and to keep it interesting but, also, to realize that job seekers have a lot of questions, and we're not always gonna have all the answers. We have to look for those answers.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Yeah. So, future plans. I know we've kicked around a couple of ideas, but I think it's always good to be thinking what's next?

Carol Ventresca:
Something new.

Brett Johnson:
Well, and kind of going back to the challenges, you can plan, and plan, and plan, but I also think have fun occasionally. We've thrown a couple of episodes together that I just suggested at the beginning of this year 2019 I said, "Let's do a top nine things you have to do."

Carol Ventresca:
Exactly. New job, new year a couple years ago, yeah.

Brett Johnson:
Those have been one of the most listened to episodes outside of the hiring events, and it really had nothing to do with any tip sheet, any fact, it just is that utilizing top nine, you know, there's key phrases but having some fun as well. It was a little bit of work to put together, but we had fun doing those, as we do with all episodes. I should say that. But we kind of went off a little bit, off center, and just say, "Okay, let's just do a top nine list."

Carol Ventresca:
Well there was an article in The Columbus Dispatch that you called and said, "Let's talk about this," and we did it with no research, really, it was just our own expertise.

Brett Johnson:
Other than just commenting about the reality of what that story was about.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. I think that this kind of parallels one of the things I talk to clients about when they're doing their job search. They have to look at what's posted, and apply for those jobs, but to also think of a second path of being creative and thinking about, "Well, here's where the jobs are posted, but who do I really want to work for and how do I get information and how do I network my way in and how do I find out what their future plans are?"

Carol Ventresca:
So, taking that notion and bringing it to the podcast is the same thing. We have to have a plan for the next few months, the next six months, the next year, of here are some potential topics, but to also think about be creative. One of the things we just started by just being creative, because we had people asking us questions, and we were trying to figure out how do we grab those questions and answer them? What is it like to work in? And, so, we're going to start this series off of conversations, so we've just posted the first one is on logistics. We're going to do one on, I'm calling it personal transportation.

Carol Ventresca:
I'm not really sure that's the correct term, but we're going to talk to people who are in different kinds of transportation areas and pull together a podcast on, you know, I've been a mailman all my life. I love to drive. It's okay. I don't mind it, so here's a place to go become a limo driver on your own schedule, on your own time, with somebody else's car, and have fun with people because they're going to a party kind of thing, so we're going to be putting some time and effort into that.

Carol Ventresca:
Again, I said there are some things, some topics, so we haven't found our content expert, so we'll continue to look for those. I want to think of other creative ways to utilize the podcast to better enhance our other programs, but also what resources we have in place to better emphasize the podcast. Again, we're starting to add it into our mass emails. Are there other kinds of things that we could do besides just posting it up there on Facebook, getting reactions from people or something, something along that line? I think there are lots of things that we can do. We're just going to be creative.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Some advice for a nonprofit that's kind of taking a look at this, kicking the tires going, "Okay, you guys got me convinced. I've listened the last half hour, 45 minutes," however long this podcast is gonna be and, "I'm in. I can do this," what would be some advice to get started and to keep going?

Carol Ventresca:
Well, as I mentioned, Employment for Seniors is a little group, but that doesn't mean that we don't have idea people, people with ideas. I can only pull out so many tricks up my sleeve, but we just ask people what they're looking at, what they need information on, what would be interesting to listen to? If they're willing to, also, help. I have a counselor who wants to do a podcast, but we haven't quite figured out what topic she wants to talk about, so you have to have ideas. You've got to have a plan and have ideas. You just cannot pull this out of thin air. It's not going to all, necessarily, flow together so we've been really, really lucky with that, but also have a marketing plan.

Carol Ventresca:
I think that we had a basic one, and we probably could have had more of a plan, but I'm not sure it would have made any difference at the end, but you do have to have a plan on how you're going to get the information out. It's no use putting all this time, cost, resources into it if nobody's listening, and make sure you really want to do it. This is not a one-and-done issue. You can't have a podcast program and only be up there for a couple of months, you have to be willing and really commit to doing it. If you're a nonprofit, get your board on board, get those folks ready, and realize that they can make it a win-win for themselves, not just that they are going to allow you to do it, but they're willing to jump in both feet.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, I think up to this point now, we have gotten almost every board member on a podcast in one form or another, and I wouldn't have thought that 18 months ago that we could, that, number one it was a goal. I don't think it ever was, but we started to look at the makeup of the board going, "We could tie," a couple of them we would have never thought to bring on, and all of a sudden they have a story to tell about their transition-

Carol Ventresca:
As career changers.

Brett Johnson:
And it's like all right, let's bring them on.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. We've had career changers from board members. We've had our content expert on the local economy. We have had HR experts talk about what makes a good candidate, so yeah, I think we've pretty much pulled everybody in.

Brett Johnson:
Yeah, which is nice because they get to know what this is all about.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Well, and it helps me as the Executive Director because then they can see what I'm putting my time into too.

Brett Johnson:
Sure. Exactly, other than hearing me report about it and they get tired of that.

Carol Ventresca:
Yes, we do inundate them with numbers, that's for sure.

Brett Johnson:
So they know, exactly. Well thank you for making this happen. I know, like I said, I wanted to make sure that we got to record an episode to talk about how this started, why I think it's important for nonprofits to really consider doing a podcast and some nuances and how we did it. Their story is going to be totally different than ours on how they get started, but I think there's valid reason to really consider doing a podcast as a nonprofit because you'll be surprised who you can get on there, the dollars that can follow to help support it, as well as people inside the organization, whether it be a board member of volunteers or whatever that, probably, will raise their hand quickly to be a part of it if it's done properly, the focus is there, and you have a game plan.

Carol Ventresca:
Right. Absolutely, and I think, too, you've offered your assistance to groups, and I'm more than happy to talk to organizations about what we did and how we did it and why we did it and has it really been worth it? I do have to say it's not only completely worth it and worth the time, but it truly does give you a sense of awe and kind of a bit of zeal to really get excited about what you're doing and what you're providing and how you can get your message across and know that somebody out there is listening.

Brett Johnson:
Right. Exactly. Well, again, thank you. Appreciate it.

Carol Ventresca:
Thank you. It's wonderful. Now, do I get to put this on my website too?

Brett Johnson:
Sure, why not?

Carol Ventresca:
Absolutely.

Brett Johnson:
Share, share.

Carol Ventresca:
One more down. Thanks, Brett.

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Employment For Seniors has provided career assistance and resources to nearly 30,000 clients, free of charge, over the past 40 years. So why does a non-profit need a podcast? And how does a non-profit “afford” to create one with already limited staff, budget and time?

Re

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.