Justin Sisley Interview Transcription
Colin Gray Interview Transcription

Vernon Ross:
He gave a keynote when I first met him, when he was talking about how intense he was into the wine business, and finding out what does this taste like? If someone says ‘This taste like dirt', I need to know what dirt tastes like, so he would put dirt in his mouth if he could get it from that region, to see what the dirt tasted like. Or he's like ‘Yes, many a time I've put a rock in my mouth to see what this tastes like, or wood, or something like that.' And I'm like ‘Okay..That's intense!'
Harry Duran:
Yeah, it is.
Vernon:
Because some wine tastes like socks, and I'm not going to ask!
—–
Harry Duran:
PODCAST JUNKIES. EPISODE 39.
Today we're speaking to Vernon Ross, he's the host of The Social Strategy Podcast, and we connected at Podcast Movement 2014 and reconnected at NMX this year. I'm glad we got to spend some time together because we got to know each other a little bit more, and I was happy to spend some time hanging out with him and figure out what he's working on and what he's got going on, and just get to know him a little bit better. So I think it just made for a much more engaging conversation.
It's a really interesting talk, and we hear about his origins as a podcaster, but even before that, his first forays into learning how to make money online. I think a lot of that was instilled in him – that drive to learn how to do something, how to make money, how to hustle, if you will. I believe it came from his Mom, and you'll hear why in the interview, and it's a really inspirational story, how she was able to motivate him to think outside the box for ways in which he could contribute to help out his family at the time.
He talks about some stories with the now defunct CompUSA, and he talks about how he also learned different ways that you can make money online through affiliates, his experience with gaming, and little by little, as he built up a site, discovering that he had a voice and he had an expertise which translated into being asked to appear as a speaker. He's done that successfully now for the past year. He recently spoke at NMX, and he talks about it as an ‘ongoing process' and how he learns along the way and how he learns from people who have done it before very successfully – people like Pat Flynn and Chris Brogan. He's really taking his show to a point where he's speaking to people that he's interested in, and I think he realizes that that's where he gets the most value for his guests.
So it really is a fun conversation, it's really relaxed, and I hope you get to know Vernon Ross a little bit better as a result of our talk together. Thanks.
Harry Duran:
So Vernon Ross, thank you for joining us on Podcast Junkies.
Vernon Ross:
What's going on, man? How are you doing?
Harry:
I'm doing great.
Vernon:
It's in a couple of weeks, right?
Harry:
Yeah, I guess you could say this interview was a year and a half in the making.
Vernon:
Yeah, exactly! Not because I'm that hard to get hold of!
Harry:
Yeah, well real life takes over, right?
Vernon:
Right!
Harry:
And it's like ‘Oh, we should meet up', or ‘We should connect, let's do it', and then a year later, we run into each other at NMX again. Or actually, it was Podcast Movement first, and we made plans to connect after that, but then other stuff happened. In a way, I think, things always work out for the best because we actually got to chat a little bit more at NMX this year.
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
And I think it just makes for a richer conversation.
Vernon:
Yeah, I think it does. We've got some good frames of reference to talk to each other about.
Harry:
So you actually were speaking again – you're all over the speaking circuit!
Vernon:
I'm trying, man.
Harry:
What was your talk at NMX about?
Vernon:
Oh, I don't even remember now!
Harry:
[Laughs]
Vernon:
Nah, it was about building influence. I called it ‘Borrow Influence: How you can basically borrow influence from the type of guest that you have and the type of people that you have on your podcast'. There are a couple of people or a couple of guests that I talk to who say ‘Oh, the Jaime Tardy method!'
I'm like – not exactly, but it's a little bit of that, I suppose. You're automatically going to get associated with the type of people that you have on your podcast, especially if it's more of a conversation and it's not just interview questions, where you just fire off questions, they answer, and after a half hour it's like ‘Okay, well thank you for coming on the show', and they don't know anything about you and you don't know anything about them.
When you can actually get into a good conversation, challenge them on some of their answers, dig deeper into their answers, it gives you a certain amount of authority that you can then use to get speaking gigs or get yourself invited to certain things, or pretty much do whatever you want with it to build a bigger audience that you have more influence over.
Harry:
And it seems like you've done a fantastic job of it for a podcast that hasn't been around that long. When you look at the list of folks that you've had on – you've had people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Brogan, you've spoken James Schramko. Talk a little bit about how you had some luck in the beginning and how, later on, you figured out how to leverage your connections to get some of these more heavy hitters on your show.
Vernon:
Yeah, the very first person that I wanted to get on was Pat Flynn. I was like ‘How am I going to get Pat Flynn on?' I'd just run into his blog, probably 3 months before I actually met him. I'm like okay, I know he gets a lot of requests and I haven't even really started the podcast yet and I'd planned on it and had all these plans – okay, I'm going to talk to Lewis Howes first, and then I'll get Michael Stelzner, and that's going to kick off the show, I'll get Pat Flynn.
So I had all of these grandiose ideas, and one of my first guests – I should call him out because he cancelled on me and I've never talked to this guy since. I think I will: Stuart Crane from TV Talk. I think it's a website called www.TVTalk.com. I heard about him from Cliff Ravenscraft, who was another one that I was like ‘Oh yeah, I'm going to get Cliff and all these people' as I jumped into the podcasting world. I guess I should step back. I was listening to David Siteman Garland from The Rise to the Top, and he was talking to Michael Stelzner, and Michael Stelzner was like ‘2013 is the year of the podcast. If you don't have a podcast, you need to start one', so I was like ‘That's it, that's what I'll do because I am having crap luck with these clients actually listening to what I say', so it was all a ploy to get clients to pay more attention.
If I could build this authority outside of the St Louis area, people would not have a choice but to listen if I was like ‘Hey, this is what you need to do and this is why you need to do it'. You know how you always get challenged, you give a client advice and they're like ‘Oh, I read this or that', and I want to find a way to get over that. Plus, I like to talk a lot anyway, and these are people that I want to meet, that I know I can learn stuff from. There's no way you're going to just be able to mentor you for free, but a podcast is basically a free half-hour to hour mentorship with people that you admire, so I was like ‘This is just a natural thing to do'.
Harry:
Yeah.
Vernon:
So jumping back forward, I made this huge list of people that I wanted to contact, and Stuart Crane was one of the ones because he had started this podcasting network, he was sending people equipment and paying them per podcast – like $90 an episode.
Harry:
Wow,
Vernon:
He was selling the HeilSound PR40 –
Harry:
That's not a cheap mic!
Vernon:
Yeah, a $249 mic, and a Behringer mixer – I think it was Behringer, or whatever it was that Cliff recommended, because Cliff developed his whole package, and I'm like ‘That's amazing! I'm going to talk to this guy!' I had my little AT2100 that's right here, I'm pointing to it.
Harry:
Yup, same here.
Vernon:
I love this microphone, but I'm like, okay, this is awesome, he's going to be the first one. I kid you not – a half hour (maybe) before the podcast; ‘Oh, sorry, dude, this is not going to work out, let's go ahead and reschedule'.
Harry:
Wow.
Vernon:
And I'm like ‘Great..', so it was like ‘Okay, I'm not going to miss my launch date'. It was September 30th, my birthday, okay, no big deal. I only had one guest booked – big mistake.
Harry:
Yeah, you had a Plan A and no Plan B?
Vernon:
Right, exactly. I still had a couple days, so he rescheduled and then cancelled on me again within, I think, 15 minutes. I may be mixing it up, but he cancelled on me twice.
Harry:
Wow.
Vernon:
Right at the last minute. I'm like ‘Oh wow..', so the first one ended up being a solo episode, and I launched it by midnight of the 30th, so it was really October 1st. I ended up launching it, and that was how I jumped into the whole podcasting world. Getting Pat Flynn, I used the whole media partner thing as an ‘in', to be able to get them to pay attention. So for the Financial Bloggers' Conference 2014 –
Harry:
AKA FinCon.
Vernon:
Right, FinCon. I heard it was coming to St Louis, I thought ‘Oh okay, that's awesome', and then I start hearing about the line-up and I'm like Jaime Tardy, Pat Flynn, Derek Halpern – somebody I hadn't even thought about getting on the list because I didn't think it was possible. I was like: They're going to, all three of them, be in St Louis? David Siteman Garland was going to be there, who's local but hard to get in touch with – there was just so many people there that I wanted to meet. Grammar Girl was going to be there, the Quick and Dirty Tips, the financial chick (I can't think of her name right now) – she was going to be there.
There was just so many people I wanted to meet. I'm like ‘Oh my God, this is the best, and it's right here. I don't have to pay for a flight, and I'm not paying to get into this conference. What can I do, because I wasn't ready to speak, I hadn't even really launched. I had two interviews and they were both local people so I was like ‘Oh, you know what, I do PR and stuff, let me contact them about doing a media partnership'. I reached out to Philip Taylor, PT Money, as most people know him, and pitched ‘Hey, let me do media sponsorship for you guys; we'll come in, take a bunch of pictures, do some blog posts and throw a party for you guys at one of the local wine bars, free of charge. Just come, show up, there'll be a free drink – first drink's on me, food, the whole nine', and I used one of my local contacts who own a wine bar, they're good friends of ours and they provided the stuff.
It was within walking distance of the conference, we got about maybe 40 people to show up because they ended up planning their opening event right as my event was coming up, but that was okay. I was still able to provide a lot of value, PT was able to show up for a few minutes before he had to get back. That was kind of my end, and from that, I was able to book Pat Flynn and Jaime and hang out with those guys. Derek Halpern never gave me the interview that he promised.
Harry:
It seems like you're going to have to have a wall of shame.
Vernon:
Yeah, a wall of shame! I've called him out on a couple of podcasts, I'm just hoping he gets around to them and I run into him and he goes ‘Dude, why'd you call me out on those podcasts?' And I'll be like ‘Because you never gave me my interview after you dropped my recorder!'
Harry:
Really? That sounds like another story..
Vernon:
Dude.. He fumbled my Zoom H4n and it hit a concrete floor and it slid across the floor. He goes ‘If I broke it, I'll buy you another one'. I'm like ‘yeah, by the conference tomorrow?' because I was going to be using it for interviews.
Harry:
Oh wow.
Vernon:
It wasn't broken. He was a good guy and a good sport about it, so I'm giving him way too much crap, but..
Harry:
He can take it. Anyone who's heard Derek Halpern knows –
Vernon:
Yeah, I will say one thing about Derek: he gave up his speaking fee and instead of taking the speaking fee, he took the speaking fee and paid for a party for everyone at FinCon.
Harry:
Oh, nice.
Vernon:
So that was unlimited drinks, open bar, food, the whole nines, so he's a stand-up guy, I just like giving him crap.
Harry:
Very cool. Yeah, he can take it.
Vernon:
That was a long answer!
Harry:
No, what's funny is that it's almost like we have to take a part of the great information that you provided there. One of the things that you mentioned was the fact that you leveraged an existing skill that you already have.
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
And I think that's so important because sometimes people go into these situations and say ‘Well, I have nothing to offer'. Like you said – ‘I'm not a podcaster, I don't have a show'. If you narrowly think only in the arena you want to play in, you're going to limit yourself, as opposed to thinking outside the box and saying ‘Wait a minute, I've got 30-40 years of experience in my job, in my craft, in my skill.' Heck, even if you play the piano or something like that, there's something that you could do – or if you took a bartending class. Think outside the box. You had the pure skills and the connections with the wine bar, and just the intuitiveness to say ‘If I take these pieces together..' One of them, by itself, may not have been enough, but it's your PR skills, it's your connections, it's the right timing of the conference coming, and it's the fact that you know enough to put together an event that would attract at least a good 30-40 people, and that's really what you need to hit the ground running.
For the listener, I think that the awesome takeaway is not to limit yourself by what you think you can do, because you don't think you have enough skill or you don't have enough experience or enough connections. I think if you really are put to the test and realize what you do have available, you'd be surprised sometimes.
Vernon:
Oh yeah, man, it's one of those things. I used everything I had to try and get into FinCon without paying. That was the big thing. It was just a couple of months and I was like ‘I don't want to pay that much for a conference that's local; how can I get in free?' I knew I had to get some value. I got really good feedback from PT, he said ‘Hey, usually with media partnerships we'll get maybe a blog post or maybe a couple of pictures or a mention or something like that, but he liked the fact that I went to as many sessions as I could, I took pictures, I tweeted, I wrote about it and did as much as I could. He just saw me all around the conference, talking to everyone. He said ‘Hey, okay, I really do appreciate you going the extra mile because most people, when they say “media partnership”, they come for the first day and then they don't come back.'

I went through everything, I went to the events, I hung out, talked to as many people as I possibly could and I just really got out there – ‘Hey, I'm launching this podcast and by the way, I'm also doing this other stuff'. That's where I first met Cynthia Sanchez.
Harry:
Oh yeah, I love Cynthia. She was my guest number two.
Vernon:
Oh wow, was she?
Harry:
Yeah. She's very accommodating and she's very sweet, and I posted something on a Throwback Thursday on Instagram recently about her interview, and Natalie Eckdahl from BizChix Podcast commented ‘I had Cynthia on early in my show as well', so she really gives podcasters a chance. I think she probably remembers when she was getting started and was looking for quality people to interview. She can talk for hours about podcasting or social media, Pinterest, what have you. I love the fact that her name keeps coming up and everyone speaks really highly of her.
Vernon:
Oh yeah, I love Cynthia and her husband, Rob. We hit it off really well.
Harry:
The other thing you talked about was the challenge you had with getting your podcast off the ground, but I think what you did that was important was that you set yourself a deadline.
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
Because if you had hit all those roadbumps and you had no deadline, you wouldn't have felt the pressure to keep moving forward and you would have just said ‘Well, it just means I'm going to launch this podcast at some unknown date in the future, some ambiguous date'. I think the power of really pressuring ourselves with these self-imposed timelines is really important. A lot of people don't do it because they're afraid of really putting themselves out there, and sometimes it's that whole mantra about telling as many people as you can when you have a goal to set – if you want to lose some weight, or you're going to try and get a new job. The more people you tell, the more scary it is because you're putting yourself on the line.
Vernon:
Yeah, and I did quite a bit of that. I was like ‘Oh yeah, I'm launching this podcast', and the funny thing is that it started when I heard that interview, and that was February of that year. I didn't launch until September. I did so much research on podcasting and what to do and what not to do, and Mix Minus, and whether I wanted to set that up. Do I want to record into a recorder? etc. Right now I'm just using Skype and WeCam, so it goes back and forth, but it was so much fun getting to learn all of the stuff. That kind of built my top 25 list, which I've pretty much completed.
Harry:
Is that Top 25 of people you wanted to have on?
Vernon:
Yeah, Top 25 of people I wanted to have on.
Harry:
Very cool. And I think you mentioned that you had the podcast because it's something that you wanted to create as an extension of your online brand?
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
So how long were you doing what you have now, in terms of a blog or the website, before you started podcasting?
Vernon:
You know, there were several iterations of it. The www.VernonRoss.com website was kind of just a placeholder, and I was doing some of everything off of that. It had some affiliate marketing stuff up there once, at one point it was just the blog, I jumped around to a couple of different blogging platforms because I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do. Back in the late '90s, early 2000's, I did a lot of affiliate marketing stuff so I would build a niche site for a videogame that was coming out during pre-launch, and I would drive traffic to it when Google rewarded you for the silliness.
I'd make a little side money here, a little side money there, just literally buying URLs and just driving traffic to a crap page that had an affiliate offer on it, and I'd get some money from GameStop or something like that. It was kind of all over the place, but one of the things that I did is I had a videogame business, and a lot of people don't know that. We did videogame tournaments locally and nation-wide, so I built pretty much the PR business off the videogame event business.
From that, sponsors started contacting me on LinkedIn. I was always big on LinkedIn; I've been on LinkedIn since the very start, always making connections on LinkedIn, reaching out to everybody that I connect with on LinkedIn. So from that, one of the groups I was in and posted to on a regular basis was a PR and Social Media group, or something like that – someone reached out to me and was like ‘Hey, we're looking for sponsorship for an event and we saw that you've worked with GameStop and McDonald's and Coca Cola, and we really would like to get in contact with some of those brands.
I was like ‘Oh sure, let's talk.' I didn't really have a business to launch that from, it was just the videogame business, and I was like ‘Oh man, I've got to do something to bring all of these brands together'. So I launched Ross Public Relations, and that was kind of how the PR business started, and then from that, I built the social media stuff. It went more from PR and sponsorship sourcing as 2008 started changing and social media really started exploding. I was using social media to book videogame events with MySpace and Friendster.
Harry:
Wow.
Vernon:
I could get people to show up with MySpace, and I loved it because that was the thing. It was so new that people were like ‘Oh wow, I know this person online and I can now go meet them offline'. During that MySpace generation, people were all up for that. Now, you send a Facebook invite and you get 3,000 people that say they're going to come and you get 300.
Harry:
Exactly.
Vernon:
With that, man, I could get 200 kids aged 15-30 to show up to a videogame event and compete for money, and that was awesome. It was a way to use it, but we didn't really think of it as social media at the time. It was this online forum on steroids to get people to do what you want. That was kind of how I got into the whole social media thing, and consulting on social media, and I sold a few restaurants some ‘Find me on MySpace' stickers to put on their windows and stuff like that.
Harry:
[Laughs]
Vernon:
That was kind of how I got into the social media thing, and from that, getting clients and consulting on social media, and the podcasting was just a way to build more authority in that whole social media space and to get people to listen when you want to talk. Plus, it was a way for me to be able to book speaking gigs and do the kind of thing that I wanted to do, which is basically teaching people and talking about social media for business.
Harry:
Have you ever heard of a site called Machinima?
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
Okay.
Vernon:
I know those guys.
Harry:
OKay, I interviewed Ryan Williams.
Vernon:
Oh really? That's funny.
Harry:
Yeah, The Influencer Economy, and he used to work for Machinima.
Vernon:
I did not know that.
Harry:
Yeah, really nice guy.
Vernon:
I heard of him back in the Halo days when I played Halo II quite a bit.
Harry:
For the listeners, Machinima is a website that I think you were referring to and had people come to the site to watch other people play videogames.
Vernon:
Yeah. Video on demand stuff. I think they also had something to do with Red Vs. Blue. That was the Halo-centered voiceover, almost Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Harry:
Yeah, it's a whole other world, right? It's a whole economy around videogaming, it's so crazy.
Vernon:
Yeah, there is.
Harry:
I think my videogame experience peaked with PlayStation 3, and maybe some Mortal Combat. I didn't really get into the war games, and I think as far as shoot 'em ups, I probably peaked with Doom. [Laughs] Quake or Doom.
Vernon:
[Laughs] Oh my God. That was horrible.
Harry:
But as far as the consoles, I think it was PlayStation 3, that was fun.
Vernon:
Well, you know, having two girls and two nephews all around close to the same age, it was just the coolest thing to them that I was involved in videogames, so it's just always been one of those things I've just kept up with as a way to stay connected to the kids.
Harry:
Yeah, it's good. So taking what you were doing there with the video game thing and the fact that you were looking for some opportunities and using affiliates, that was really borne out of – it sounds like – looking for opportunities to figure out what your niche was going to be online.
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
So talk a bit about when you decided that you needed to be online in the first place. What was it that made you realize that you needed to make a transition from what I'm assuming was an offline experience and job, to where you had that moment of ‘Hey, I need to take notice of something that's happening here and I need to be a part of it.'
Vernon:
Right, I think the first online experience – I was very early online, so '94 or '96. I ran a bulletin board back when I was in High School in '88.
Harry:
What was the topic?
Vernon:
Oh shit, I don't even remember at this point. I just remember it was a bunch of us online, maybe 15 people, and we were running off a server that we weren't supposed to be running off of at our High School.
Harry:
Nice.
Vernon:
It was just basically a chatroom and we would all just jump on the phone and talk about stupid stuff. I don't even remember.
Harry:
Yeah, but at that time it seems like the coolest thing. I don't know if the timing's right, but it's that feeling you get when you watch WarGames with Matthew Broderick.
Vernon:
Oh yeah, that was THE movie. Oh my God, I've seen that so many times! Way more than I'm willing to admit.
Harry:
Yeah, it was so funny because everyone was just fascinated, and when you look back – I haven't seen it in a while, but I remember he's pulling out not even the 5 and a quarter inch floppy disk, but he had the 8-inch one. Which probably holds nothing in terms of data.
Vernon:
Yeah, exactly. My phone is more powerful than that computer now. But yeah, that was awesome.
Harry:
So you went from the chatroom…
Vernon:
I went from that to a GeoCity site, and I was just playing around with it. When I first found out you could do stuff online and actually make money with it, I have an IT background, so I've been an IT person for 20 years. I started off as desk-side support – the basic help desk stuff – but I was always getting those phone calls from relatives saying ‘Oh man, can you come help me do this?' Of course they don't want to pay you.
Harry:
You're the guy in the family that they call on.
Vernon:
I'm the guy, I'm the guy. And I hated being the guy, but it was like ‘Well, a couple of these people have actually paid me to do stuff. What can I do to add more value to this silly service that I'm offering, that's not just dollars for hours? I was getting really tired of working a 50-hour work week, or a 40-hour or a 45-hour work week, and then another 25-30 hours right after I get off, running to different people's houses to do stuff. I had a nice little business, I'd go into Best Buy, or actually at the time, Computer City, or CompUSA.
Harry:
CompUSA, wow.
Vernon:
Yeah. And just walk around in the computer area. I'd have my work clothes on, take my name tag off and people would just be confused and I'd walk up to them and start explaining stuff. They're like ‘Do you work here?', and I was like ‘No, actually, I have my own computer business.' Then I'd look around and hand them a business card.
Harry:
[Laughs]
Vernon:
I was like ‘Anything you buy here, I can help you set it up, so just give me a call once you get home'.
Harry:
That's awesome.
Vernon:
So I'm like ‘I'm giving away business. I need a way to sell them a computer, but how am I going to do that?' I didn't know how to do it until I ran into this company, it was a direct sales company called Hands Technologies, and they offered everything. They were selling Sysmex white box systems, so I could put these things together. I had this website and I was doing a URL for it, and I can't even remember the name of the website I was using. You'd go out to my website and it would just basically forward you over to their website, and I'd get from a cookie in the URL anything that you bought on there. I looked bigger than I was, and so I was in the dentist offices and doctors' offices saying ‘Oh yeah, I can set you up and sell all your computers'. I was making like $1200 a month. I wasn't doing anything!
So it was amazing, and it evolved to the point where you can sell broadband. I was like ‘Hey, I need to sign up for internet, and I was doing my same old thing, going into Best Buy'. They were all like ‘Oh man, I don't know what I'm doing', so I was like ‘Hey, why don't you sign up for internet and then you go out here, look and see what's available in your area and just sign up for it there. It goes right through them, not through me, this is just a portal for you to get there', and I'd get $60 per sign-up!
Harry:
Nice!
Vernon:
So I'm making a few thousand dollars online for a couple hours of work, and not doing nearly as much running around. That was kind of the first –
Harry:
‘Aha' moment.
Vernon:
‘Aha' moment. The second one was when I had a series of managers that were horrible! I'm like ‘I've got to find another source of income in the event that one day I walk in and I'm not a nice guy, or I just get fired for cussing somebody out', which happens a lot. I'm like ‘Okay, I just need to get out of this place'.
It didn't happen as quickly as I wanted it to, but it was another option. That was how I first really got online.
Harry:
That's an interesting story. Basically, you were the first Geek Squad.
Vernon:
I was the first Geek Squad. [Laughs] And that's the first time I've ever told that story.
Harry:
That's awesome, man. But it's so funny because at the time – it's probably not the case now – or first of all, because those stores are dying out so quickly, they're not even around, but I think there's more information available now. You probably were at a peak time when technology was booming, everyone was interested in computers but there was a sense of overwhelm that people had when they thought ‘How do I put this together?', ‘What goes first?'
But since we're in IT, and I grew up with IT as well and we're just naturally comfortable around the technology, right?
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
I mean, I had a Tandy 1000 from Texas Instruments, so we're going really old school, but I think my Dad actually used to work for Xon, and they had an electronic type-writer division for some reason, it was called QYX. He brought this mammoth, giant type-writer. The biggest type-writer you can ever imagine, it was like an atomic bomb, and it was the latest technology because it had one line. You could type out one line digitally on the screen, and then you could correct it, and then you hit enter and it would go.
Vernon:
I remember that!
Harry:
And it was a big deal because you didn't have to type it onto the paper directly. It was an intelligent type-writer, and I was like ‘Woahh'. It was crazy. But at the time, growing up with this, we become very comfortable with it, and sometimes we take it for granted. It's only when you're out there and you're talking to relatives or other people that you just realize there's a lot of overwhelm and a lot of opportunity to help people. If you do it in an ethical way, there's no reason why you can't make some money from it at the same time.
Vernon:
Right. The funny thing is it all goes back to a conversation I had with my Mom. I was 15; we didn't have a lot of money, and she's like ‘Look, I can't pay tuition for private schools', and she was absolutely not going to have me go to a public school in the area we were living in. Although the private school was still in the same area!
Harry:
Yeah; I'm assuming you had to wear some sort of uniform?
Vernon:
Oh yeah, every day.
Harry:
It makes a difference.
Vernon:
And so I ran fast! [Laughs] I was a Catholic schoolboy, and it didn't help that I also went to Catholic church. She was like ‘Look, you're going to have to get a job if you want extra spending money'. I'm like ‘Well, how do I do that?' So she goes ‘What do you know how to do?'
I'm like ‘Nothing', but she goes ‘No, everybody knows how to do something. This is what you know how to do. Every Saturday morning, what do you do?'
I go ‘Watch cartoons'. She goes ‘Before you can watch cartoons'. So I say ‘Oh, um, wash the dishes from the night before, sweep and mop the kitchen, wipe down the steps and then go back and Murphy's oil-soap the steps', because we had hardwood steps in the city in this own brown-stone that we lived in.
And she's like ‘What else do you know how to do?' I'm like ‘Cut the grass, pick up trash', and she's like ‘So basically, you know how to do a janitor's job'.
Harry:
You just rattled off like 3-4 jobs right there.
Vernon:
And I'm like ‘Oh'. So she says ‘What you need to do is go to a restaurant and you tell them what you can do, and that you're willing to do it if they give you a chance. That's how you do that.'
She and my sister also showed me how to fill out an application and all this other stuff beforehand, and that's what I did. I went to a couple restaurants and I asked for the owner. I said ‘Look, I don't have any experience, but this is what I know how to do at home, and I would love to do that here for whatever it is that you want to pay me. I just need some extra money to buy stuff with'.
I didn't know anything about minimum wage or any of that, I was just willing to work hard and do whatever they wanted me to do.
Harry:
Yeah, child labor laws..
Vernon:
He's like ‘What? Okay, come back at this time, be on time and I'll give you a job, and that was how I got my first job'.
Harry:
That's an awesome story, Vernon. It's amazing, and props to your Mom for doing it in a way where she allowed you to come to the answer yourself. She's like ‘Okay, what do you know how to do?' And you were like ‘Nothing', and they're like ‘Well, think about it'. It's so amazing sometimes, and I'm sure some of those lessons have been passed onto you as a parent now; people, even kids, don't like to be talked down to, they don't like to be nagged, they don't like it be seen like the only answer has come from on high. Sometimes you have the knowledge in your own head to figure out what to do next, and with a little guidance and she gave you some amazing guidance right there, she kind of helped you come to the answer yourself. You feel almost self-empowered when you went out there like ‘Yeah, I do know something'. And I'm sure that led to a couple of jobs for you.
Vernon:
Oh, everything. She was amazing, man. After that, she goes ‘And once you get the job, do everything there. Learn how to do everything there. Watch everyone all the time.' She was like ‘Start with watching the owner and what he does, and then just do that. Do the stuff that you see the successful people doing, and you'll eventually get to that level of success'.
She's college educated and she was big into motivational recordings, so there was a lot of that stuff laying around our house, so I was exposed to it early, but she was an amazing influence. It's the same thing for podcasting – emulate the people that are on top. Don't copy them, but watch what they're doing to be successful, and then just do that.
Harry:
Yeah, it's funny. My Dad used to do the same thing with motivational tapes. I don't know, I wish I'd been more receptive because at that point, you're just like ‘I don't want to listen to this!' It was vinyl! He had a vinyl, and some of it was cassettes, and I think I remember some of them were like ‘The Richest Man in Babylon', some Dale Carnegie stuff, and I was like ‘Why are we listening to this when I'd rather be playing a videogame?', which was probably Atari at the time, it wasn't anything cool.
But it's so funny. They know – I think if they just deliver the message in a bunch of different ways, eventually one of them will stick.
Vernon:
Yeah. ‘How to win friends and influence people' was at my house, and I'd look through it and thumb through it, but I guess some of the stuff got in through osmosis.
Harry:
That's awesome, that's a really good story. It's really motivational. It must be good for you, and with some fondness that you can look back on those memories and now as you're older, see how a lot of that molded who you are.
Vernon:
Oh yeah, man. Everything I am, I owe to my Mom and her messages of positive reinforcement. Growing up in the city, and especially in a bad neighborhood, you just don't have it. She's like ‘You can be anything you want to be, regardless of your situation. You just have to believe it and work hard enough for it,' and I was like ‘Okay, sure.' It didn't make a difference that she wasn't doing exactly what she wanted to do, because I saw her rebuild herself so many times, so it was like ‘Okay, it's possible, I guess.' I just don't think that there's anything out there that I can't figure out a way to do.
Harry:
Yeah, and from the conversations that we had – we had a couple at NMX – I just had that vision of you like ‘I've got to MacGyver a way into this situation'. You would figure out where you wanted to be and then reverse engineer yourself and fast-forward to the event date and you're like ‘Hey, I'm here at the event'.
Vernon:
Right.
Harry:
And with each one, I imagine you getting better and better at it.
Vernon:
You know, it's funny that we're talking about New Media Expo. When I was there last year, I was sick as a dog. I think a lot of people there were sick – there was some kind of weird virus.
Harry:
I heard about that, I think there was something about that, right? People were tweeting about that after the event last year.
Vernon:
Yeah. It hit me, I don't know, I must have gotten it on the plane or was probably already coming down with it because nationwide, people were just sick. Oh my God, it was just horrible, but I ran into Rick Calvert and I was just like ‘Hey, Rick, this is an awesome conference, I really want to speak here next year. I'm going to figure out some way to do it; I haven't lost my pot of cash yet, but I'm going to come back next year and speak at this event next year.' And he goes ‘OKay man, great to meet you, weirdo. Sure, awesome.'
It wasn't that bad, but.. I'm sure he was like ‘Okay, sure.'
Harry:
But it's funny because I'm a big believer in setting intentions and putting out into the universe what you want to happen, so that's what you did. You were like ‘I'm just letting you know that I'm going to be here next year, speaking', and lo and behold, you actually pulled it off.
Vernon:
Yeah, I was a bit shocked and trust me, I submitted my proposal on the last possible day. Literally on the last possible day, after talking to Dave Jackson, listening to a couple of his podcasts. He actually did an episode of ‘Hey, if you want to speak at New Media Expo, this is what you need to do', so I just wrote down a checklist and made sure I did every last one of those things. One of the things that I'll tell people – if you want to speak at an event, no matter what the event, you have to have proof that you can actually talk. Most people don't have that proof, and you'd be surprised. I was talking to a couple of bloggers that are pretty prominent bloggers, but they don't have any recordings of them doing anything. I'm like ‘You've got to get somebody to either follow you around with a camera, take some video'. I still have my little flip video cam.
Harry:
The flip cam, yeah, I love that.
Vernon:
I'll set the thing up on a tripod and take video if I have to. It's 720p, that's good enough for a speaking reel.
Harry:
The sound is good on that too.
Vernon:
Yeah! They don't expect HD quality, fully-edited video, they just want to see that you have experience onstage, and that's a huge part of it. And being prepared to speak whenever you go – knowing what your topic is, knowing what you're going to talk about and having something in your pocket ready that you can talk about and then modify for whatever conference you're going to be at.
Harry:
And I'm assuming – it seems like the first couple would be a bit hard because there's a whole combination of nerves, figuring out what you're going to say and having the time necessary to prepare, because a lot of the time, your first one is your most important one because it sort of gets you off the ground and gets your whole speaking life kicked off, if you will.
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
So I think that it's maybe more of an investment of time that needs to go into there, but like you said, it's just being aware of the opportunities that if you are given a space in a forum to speak, just to always be ready to record it and capture that once in a lifetime opportunity to demonstrate to other people that you are the subject matter expert, or that you have done this before.
Vernon:
Right, and there are different types of experts – there's the one that has the experience, and there's the one that has the research. You can research something really well and speak on it that way. I think people expect for you to have experience, but I think if you tell them – ‘Hey, I've researched this and these are my findings', they're also receptive to that type of communication, when you're speaking. I haven't done that one before, but I've heard of people doing it.
Harry:
Yeah, speaking of research, I was catching up on some of your older shows, and I heard the one you did with Pat Flynn, who's now become famous for his keynotes, and he tries to continuously up himself. For the folks who weren't at NMX and who haven't heard by now, Pat Flynn starts off with a Hollywood quality film trailer –
Vernon:
That was amazing!
Harry:
With a Back to the Future theme, because he's obviously a Back to the Future aficionado, and then as if the video wasn't enough – I would have seen the video and been like ‘Wow, that's an awesome intro to a keynote'.
Vernon:
Right.
Harry:
And he pulls up from the back of the room, driving a frickin' DeLorean, an actual DeLorean.
Vernon:
A frickin' DeLorean. Like, THE DeLorean from Back to the Future.
Harry:
Exactly, from the movies. And he's dressed up like Marty McFly, and he gets out and all he would have needed to do was hoverboard onto the stage!
Vernon:
I thought he was going to! I'm like ‘He's got a hoverboard'.
Harry:
If he pulls out a hoverboard, I'll just go nuts. And the crowd went wild. He takes this stuff seriously, man. It's so funny because he really just knocked it out the park – so much so that the next speaker was just completely overshadowed. I don't want to name names, but it wasn't good, compared to the quality of what Pat had just delivered. It was basically overshadowed and it just showed you how it's done, which was fantastic.
Vernon:
Right.
Harry:
When he was on your show, he talked about his first opportunity at FinCon to deliver a keynote, and the number that fascinated me was, I think, 250 hours. You asked him how long it took him to prepare, and he took it so seriously. I think that just comes from his background; he was previously an architect, he's got that attention to detail mentality, and he takes these projects very seriously. I remember listening to an episode of Smart Passive Income, where he talked about the process of preparing that keynote, and he was literally recording himself, watching himself in front of a mirror, repeating his slides, going over them like 10-20-30-40-50 times, just rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing, and when I heard and was reminded of that number 250, I wasn't surprised.
Obviously you can't do that every time, but I think when he realized how important an opportunity this was, and obviously he said it was his first paid one, and so it set the stage. Once you see someone put that level of dedication into a keynote, then your name just comes up all over the place – every time. Obviously 10X that more now after his NMX gig. I think it just speaks to what you were alluding to about learning with each one, taking the opportunities really seriously. A lot of times, people will be given that opportunity and they're like ‘Okay, yeah, we'll give you a shot' and then they just totally eff it up. They're not prepared, they embarrass themselves and you know what? Don't be surprised when the requests dry up after that.
Vernon:
Yeah. It's funny, I've seen some really big name people do their slides literally 5 minutes before they go on stage, and I'm just like – you know, you might be good enough to do that, but you're not serving the people that have paid to be here by last minute doing anything. Although I'm bad at it – I am horrible at doing my stuff beforehand, I go over a lot of stuff in my head, but I've never actually filmed myself doing my presentation, because for me, it's more of a performance than anything else. I think you can practice a performance, but just like a lot of actors don't want to watch themselves – it's not that I have a hang up about doing it, it's just not something I've actually done.
Harry:
Yeah, everyone's got a different approach and I think when you find the one that works for you, just stick with it. The results speak for themselves, right? If you end up giving a really good presentation and you're getting folks patting you on the back for it, then the approach that you used to get to that and to deliver that worked for you. If people want to try the Vernon Ross approach to keynote preparation, just let the buyer beware.
Vernon:
Pat's process is amazing, and just the amount of dedication he shows, I hope that one day I get to that. I do watch a lot of TedTalks and stuff like that, to look at other people's styles, but I like having conversations. I don't like telling stories. My style is a little more fluid. The one time I actually did go through and really really rehearse, it just bombed. I was like ‘Okay, never again am I going to be so prepared that I know every sentence I'm going to say' because it didn't come off as natural, and that was some of the feedback I got. A lot of people said it just kind of sounded like I was reading a thing, and I was like ‘Oh, well I kind of was in my mind'. I was only thinking about what I was talking about and it was just not a good experience. I'm like ‘OKay, I just need to make it more like I do my podcasts, which is totally unprepared'. I don't have prepared questions. I'll do research on the guest so I know about them, but other than that, that's about it.
Harry:
It's the same thing I preach when I talk about bringing guests onto the show and taking a genuine interest in the person that's on the other side of the screen for me in my case. I imagine what you're doing is taking a genuine interest in your audience when you're speaking, right?
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
You're getting feedback, you're possibly reading some body language, seeing what the engagement is in the room when you bring up certain topics – you can notice things like people sitting up a little bit straighter in their chair, they'll pay more attention or they'll start taking notes, and it's a skill. It's a skill to have this live engagement with your audience and be able to not necessarily change your whole speech, but maybe just correct as necessary.
Vernon:
It's funny – when I'm talking to an audience, I tend to try to focus on the entire room, although sometimes you just get drawn to this one person and you keep looking at them like you're talking to them. I know it creeps some people out..
Harry:
Yeah, like why does he keep staring at me?
Vernon:
Right! But it's one of those things – you have to pay attention. One of those things that I talked to Gary Vaynerchuk about, and I've met Gary on several occasions. Before my interview I was like ‘Okay, I know him, do I really need to go and look at his stuff?' and I'm like ‘Yeah, I think I need to go and see what he's been doing lately, and really dig into his last 10 shows and his own ‘Ask Gary Vee' show that he does. He cracks me up when he does that.
Harry:
That's not a bad Gary Vee impersonation.
Vernon:
Was that pretty good?
Harry:
That was pretty good.
Vernon:
Yeah, I like Gary and I genuinely like him as a person because I think he's really genuine. I follow him on snapchat and I'm watching those and those weird faces he makes on snapchat, but he made this little mini movie called The Clouds and the Dirt, and it's like his philosophy for what he's been doing lately over this past year, and it was really interesting. I want to understand more about what's the clouds stuff and what's the dirt stuff, and what does that mean? What context does that have?
He gave a keynote when I first met him where he was talking about how intense he was into the wine business, and finding out what does this taste like? If someone says ‘This taste like dirt', I need to know what dirt tastes like, so he would put dirt in his mouth if he could get it from that region, to see what the dirt tasted like. Or he's like ‘Yes, many a time I've put a rock in my mouth to see what this tastes like, or wood, or something like that.' And I'm like ‘Okay..That's intense!'
Harry:
Yeah, it is.
Vernon:
Because some wine tastes like socks, and I'm not going to ask!
Harry:
I wouldn't be surprised though.
Vernon:
You know? I'm like ‘This guy is really intense; I need to know what does that mean? What does dirt mean?' And then he said something and I'm like ‘So that's what you mean by the whole clouds and the dirt', and he goes ‘Oh man'. He was genuinely surprised that I knew that, and he was like ‘You know my shtick', and I'm like ‘Of course, I follow you' and he's like ‘What? This is dirt work. A podcast interview is dirt work. Not in a derogatory way, but it's getting in there and it's grassroots stuff. It's the stuff that not a lot of people do, so I'm talking to you versus talking to the Wall Street Journal. They called me 10 minutes before this interview and wanted to do an interview with me but I told them no because I'd already committed to you'.
I was like ‘And you just said that on the air!' I nearly dropped the mic!
Harry:
Mic-drop moment! There's a lot of stuff in there as well, because that just sort of speaks to his integrity, right?
Vernon:
Yeah.
Harry:
And I think there's a story about Jon Huntsman; I think he ran for President, he's some Republican candidate. The reason I remember it is because he had made some sort of deal with someone about buying his company, and I think they came to an agreement that the company was going to be sold for $250 million, or some crazy figure like that. Something happened, and I'm sure I'm screwing up the pieces, but what stuck with me was the fact that fast-forward (they couldn't make the deal at the time), so they had to re-group 6 months later. At that time, the valuation of the company goes up, I think, and it's worth like $500 million, or something like that, or three-quarters of a billion dollars. So long story short, I think the guy comes back and he's like ‘Well, I know you said 250 and I know obviously the company's gone up through no fault of yours, so I'm willing to offer you half a million dollars', and Jon Huntsman was like ‘No, it was $250 million and we shook hands on it, so my word is law on this. If I promise you something, that's what it's going to be.' They didn't even have a signed contract. We're talking hundreds of millions of dollars!
Vernon:
That's amazing!
Harry:
And it's almost legendary with the story because I think it just speaks to the man's credibility.
Vernon:
Yeah, I had heard something about that.
Harry:
And the power of a handshake deal, and when you give someone your word, what that really means. Gary's probably a good representation of that.
Vernon:
Yeah, he really is and he was like ‘Yeah, and I like the fact that you're keeping up with the time'. He only had 10 minutes. He was literally at an airport, holding up a plane and he goes ‘yeah, the plane's kind of waiting on me', and as we were getting to the 10 minute mark, I really wanted to make sure we ended at 10 minutes. He was like ‘See, that's the reason I'm glad we took this interview. A lot of guys will say 10 or 15 minutes and they'll try to keep you for a half hour, just because they know that you don't want to be rude and just hang up on them.'
Harry:
Yeah.
Vernon:
So he was really cool about that, and we've gone back and forth, and the same thing with a lot of other guests that I've had on. Chris Brogan was another one where everything went wrong – kind of like our interview today! When we first started, I was on the wrong internet connection somehow and it was sounding crappy, and it got disconnected and I thought it was maybe the kids streaming Netflix upstairs and I'm like ‘Oh my God!' I had to reboot my router and I ate up like the first 5 minutes of our interview, and he's just like ‘Dude, don't worry about it. Of course this is going to happen because this is a big interview for you.' That was not him being pretentious, but –
Harry:
Sort of a Murphy's Law thing.
Vernon:
Right, he knew, he's like ‘This happens to me all the time. Any time I have anything big, something goes wrong, so no worries.' He gave me the amount of time, and he was running late because I heard his phone vibrating constantly. He was about to teach a live class and delayed it because he was like ‘No man, you're a good guy and I like you', and since then there's been a relationship there and we just had him right after New Media Expo, and he was here in St Louis, speaking at the UMSL Digital Conference. That was cool, that was a nice payday for him and it was all because of our relationship back and forth. Relationships matter, man.
Harry:
What do you think your differentiating skill is in interviewing?
Vernon:
I listen. I listen to what people say and I respond to it, but I never interview anybody I'm not interested in. I don't ever – why is my vocabulary leaving me right now? I always research my guests.
Harry:
Okay.
Vernon:
I always want to know something obscure about my guests, so I have to look into their background quite a bit. I got that from Andrew Warner. One of the things that he's known for is just the amount of research that he does on people. I don't have a researcher like he does, but I dig in and try to find out the things that they may not talk about, and I listen to usually 3-4 interviews – a newer one, an older one. I'll try to find the first interview they've ever done on a show, just to see what they talk about and see if anything's changed from that very first interview that they've done through what I know about them now. It's funny that you just talked to Jared; I'm talking to Jared tonight.
Harry:
Okay.
Vernon:
First time I've had him on the show, which is insane. Yeah, I didn't know he was in the Navy, so I may mention something about that.
Harry:
Yeah, that sort of came up for – obviously my super loyal listeners have listened to every episode of Podcast Junkies, so they know that Jared Easley was just on and we were live on the floor of NMX, but he just sort of stumbled into it. Keeping the conversation open is sometimes very interesting because you don't have a pre-set path that you're going to go down, and it opens a lot of wonderful doors sometimes and you end up talking about some random stuff that's of interest to people. Like your discussion about your time with CompUSA. I definitely didn't have a scripted question that would have gotten us to that point, so…
Vernon:
Poaching customers from CompUSA.
Harry:
Yeah, exactly, so I think that's just a great skill to have: listening. A lot of people don't do it; they're just in such a rush to get through their list of questions and they haven't thought them through. Sometimes in the beginning, that's what happens – that's what happened to me. I had questions and I asked them, and then you could sort of hear the conversation was a bit forced, but I very quickly realized that this is not how I talk in real life. I don't sit with my friends in the bar and say ‘What did you eat? What is your favorite ice cream? Tell me about a past failure.' They would be like ‘Bro, what the hell's wrong with you, why are you talking like that?'
Vernon:
Exactly.
Harry:
And it's so funny, because people can hear natural conversations, and I sort of subscribe to that same school of thought about having people on that I'm comfortable talking to, that I've engaged with at least a little bit prior to the show, because they're just more fun conversations. It's my show; why do I have to follow someone else's rules about booking 3 guests a week etc? At some point it would be miserable and I wouldn't be having fun.
Vernon:
You don't. It's funny, I don't remember who I was having the conversation with, but I was like ‘You know, I podcast because I'm selfish. I want to learn from the best people out there, doing the stuff, and the only way I can do that is build my own platform, and so I did, and now I get to talk to amazing people all the time, and learn from them. The people that I currently have around me, although I love them and they're nice people, they're not going to be able to tell me how to build a million-dollar plus business, or a billion dollar business, so I need to talk to people that can. I need to talk to people that can get me from point A to point G, not A-B. I can see B, it's right over there, I'm going to go over there and get it, but I have no idea of the concept to get from A-G so I'm going to talk to this guy that's already at Z or Y or somewhere way further down the timeline. I stole that from Michael O'Neal from Solopreneur. It's such a good saying. You talk to people that are further down the timeline that are further down the timeline than you are – you'll never hear a guest on that hasn't done something more significant than I've done.
The reason is that I can't grow and if I can't grow, I don't think my audience can. I'm selfish in that regard. I've had podcasters go ‘Oh, I'd love to be on your show', and I've said ‘I'd love to have you come on once you've done something significant, other than start a podcast.'
Harry:
Yeah, that seems to be the craze now. Everyone's got a podcast.
Vernon:
Yeah, I'm like ‘Tell me something interesting about you that you've done. What's something that you've done that you've achieved? What's something that people want to know about?' and once I get to know people – because that sounds a little horrible, right?
Harry:
No, I think if you know very clearly who your audience is and what people look for when they tune into your show, then really what you're doing is just being loyal to those listeners and keeping yourself honest in terms of providing consistent value.
Vernon:
Right. When I listen to a podcast, I want to walk away going ‘Oh wow, I did not know that, that is something interesting and something I want to go back to.' I want people to have that experience when they listen to mine – at least one takeaway. When you listen to my show, I hope that when you leave, it's like ‘Oh man, I didn't know that', or ‘That was really good info', or ‘I've never heard that person give that information before', so that's one of the reasons that you research and you be selfish. What do you want to learn? Then contact the person that you want to learn it from.
Harry:
That's awesome advice, and I think a pretty good way to wrap up this first session of Harry and Vernon Shoot the Shit.
Vernon:
First session of many, I hope.
Harry:
Yeah, I think so, man, I'm really happy we got the chance to talk. I was wondering what your thoughts are about the upcoming year and when you think about it from a podcasting perspective. First off with your show, what do you think are going to be the biggest opportunities or challenges as you look to grow your show?
Vernon:
It's funny that you say that, because I was looking at that a couple of days ago, and I was like ‘What in the hell am I going to do for the rest of the year?' I can't believe that this much of the year has already gone, and it's like ‘Who's next? Who do I want on next? Who's doing something that's new, that's innovative, that applies to my show? Am I going to continue with the same show?' I'm 52 episodes in and it's like ‘Well, hmm, now do I want to continue this or do I want the show to evolve into something else?' For now, I think I'm good because there's a lot of stuff going on, there's a lot of stuff to talk about – social media, online business, networking; there's always stuff to talk about in those areas.
Harry:
It's always an exciting time.
Vernon:
Yeah, so I'm just going to continue to look for awesome people to talk to, and try to find opportunities to do something a little different. We're in the pre-chat talking about a guy I ran into who's got an amazing video studio that he's building now, so we're going to start doing some more video and maybe start doing some in-person podcast interviews and see how weird that gets.
Harry:
[Laughs]
Vernon:
If it goes well, then I'll start doing more video. I like what Chris Cerrone and Laci Vegas –
Harry:
Laci Vegas! Laci Urcioli is the other host.
Vernon:
Yeah, because I can't pronounce her last name! Everytime I see it as LaciVegas on Twitter or Instagram so I go follow her. I like what they're doing with video and how they're taking podcasting to a different level. It's not just an audio interview; it's audio and video and they're doing on-location stuff and I'm like ‘Oh my God, that would be so fun'. It would like being a correspondent for a real news station, so I'm thinking about some stuff like that.
Harry:
That's awesome. We're in fun times, and obviously since we're both tech geeks, all the new technology that's making this stuff much easier for us to do – everyone's walking around with a frickin' GoPro camera.
Vernon:
Yeah I know, right!
Harry:
Everyone's walking around with a Zoom H5, it's like we're roving correspondents and it gets a little overwhelming to the point where I can't imagine when we get to Podcast Movement in July. It'll just be like everyone trying to grab everyone for an interview. It almost makes me want to step back and be like ‘I'm not going to be the person shoving a mic in someone's face, but we'll see how it goes.'
Vernon:
I usually only try to do one interview at a conference. I did two at New Media Expo, surprisingly enough. I didn't really plan on it, but I was just like ‘Eh, I think I'll do an interview because I need some stuff for when I get back'.
Harry:
Yeah. As always, it happened last year and it's happening this year. We reconnected and I've got like 3-4 interviews lined up just as a result of NMX. It's just a good way for me to shake hands and say ‘Yeah, I definitely want to have this person on', so that's another good reason for folks listening to head out those conferences. There's only so much you can do online with these Facebook groups; you really need to get out there and meet people IRL.
Vernon:
That's right.
Harry:
And just get to know the personalities behind all these names that you see online.
Vernon:
Oh yeah, definitely, man.
Harry:
So one last question.
Vernon:
Sure.
Harry:
It's something a little bit different, but what is the one most misunderstood thing about you?
Vernon:
Oh man, the one most misunderstood thing about me. I'm not a know-it-all!
Harry:
[Laughs]
Vernon:
I'm not a know-it-all. I hear that from some people, usually people that are close to me, and it's like ‘Yeah, okay, thanks for the answer'. I'm like ‘Look! I collect useless data. I'm sorry!' But I have an opinion about a lot of everything.
Harry:
That could be good or bad, depending on who your audience is.
Vernon:
Right, so I don't know, I try and get better at it, but that's one of those. I think that sort of answers that question.
Harry:
Very cool. I'll take it. What's the best place to track you down online?
Vernon:
Find me at www.VernonRoss.com, and @RossPR pretty much everywhere, except on Facebook, which I still kind of hate.
Harry:
That'll be the subject for another conversation.
Vernon:
Oh yeah.
Harry:
Thanks again for coming on, Vernon, I had a blast.
Vernon:
Yeah, it was fun, man.
—-
Harry Duran:
So thanks for listening, guys, I really had a fun time talking to Vernon, as you can now tell from that conversation you just heard. It's really a testament to having people on that you have a comfort level with, because I think that just makes for a more engaging conversation for you, the listener and for me, the interviewer, and for the guest as well. There's a lot covered, and I touched upon at the beginning of the episode, but it was just really interesting to hear a story that he hadn't shared before about his time getting folks into his computer consulting business, and just the hustle that he showed, trying to get those customers lined up. And his experience with gaming and making a business out of that, how he got started in getting the website and his services promoted, and how he also started getting into speaking and how he now has a successful career speaking, but I think what's also interesting is his resourcefulness, right? He talked about how he leveraged his skills in PR and his connections in the community to take advantage of the fact that FinCon was coming to his neighborhood, and I think he did a fantastic job, and now he's got connections with the organizer of FinCon and people like Pat Flynn, who he actually interviewed at the conference for one of his episodes.
I think there's some valuable takeaways in that, and I think just his approach to taking an interest in his guests and making sure that he creates episodes that are very interesting, and they come out of his genuine interest in what the audience wants to hear and his research, and doing his homework, if you will, so that everyone gets a really good experience. It's not the type of podcast where you'll see that he has hundreds of episodes. I think he's really taken a calculated approach to figure out who the best guest is for his audience, and I think that's really commendable. So I think you learned a bit more about him that you may not have known previously, having listened to him on other shows, or from his podcast, and I'm always happy when that happens.
So as a reminder, I'm asking for ratings and reviews as they always are really helpful to the success of the show. I was really happy to hear the folks from Spreaker had Podcast Junkies as a featured episode recently on their website, and that was really fantastic. I'm really making a bit more of a push to get some of the episode promoted through Spreaker, so if you haven't checked them out, go to www.Spreaker.com and you'll see that you can look for Podcast Junkies there.
You can leave a review there as well, and get some likes on the show from that page. It's always the reviews on iTunes that really help us out, so if you've got a couple of minutes, you can actually just pause right now and go over to iTunes – www.PodcastJunkies.com/iTunes and leave a nice rating and a review, or if you've got a gripe with the show, then by all means, leave some feedback there as well. Believe it or not, good or bad feedback is always welcome because it allows me the opportunity to try and figure out how to make the show much more engaging and interesting for you. So thanks again for listening, and I look forward to catching up with you guys next week. Have a fantastic day.

Justin Sisley Interview Transcription
Colin Gray Interview Transcription