YEC Founder Series: Zen Media


Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they build their businesses for an audience of real entrepreneurs who are often building their businesses as they’re doing this, as they’re listening to these interviews. Today, I’m recording this podcast episode live as part of my set of interviews with members of YEC. This is an organization for young entrepreneurs who are doing well in business, helping each other out. I’ve been fascinated by them and I want to understand how their members are growing their businesses.
And so joining me is Shama Hyder. She is an entrepreneur who does social media and other earned media for her clients. Before we get started I said, “Does Zen Media also, you guys don’t do any paid media, right? It’s all the stuff like managing people’s social accounts and content marketing and so on.” And said, “Yes, but we also need to pay to sometimes amplify what you’re doing on social.” So that is what Zen Media does.
I invited her here to find out how she built up her agency, how she got clients, how she’s promoting them using online media, and what we can learn about building a business and doing online promotions from her experiences. And we could do it thanks to two phenomenal sponsors, the first if you’re hiring developers or designers or finance people, you got to check out Toptal. And the second, if you are creating landing pages, taking strangers, turning them into customers, you got to find out about ClickFunnels. I’ll talk about both of those later. First, Shama, good to have you here.
Shama: Hey, pleasure to be here, Andrew. Thanks so much for having me.
Andrew: What’s the revenue? How much are you guys doing?
Shama: We’re, you know, we passed a million in our first two years in business, so we’re doing pretty well right now.
Andrew: And the business was started in 2008.
Shama: Yeah. I can’t believe it’s been more than 10 years.
Andrew: So within two years you hit over a million dollars in revenue. How many people were in the business back then?
Shama: Just me, I had one employee very quickly. We grew to 30 and it’s been really interesting. It’s been, you know, we’re a remote company, so we don’t have like an actual office, so our team is pretty much spread out all over the U.S.
Andrew: Look at this. Shane Mac is listening live. The guy is on vacation in Europe. He gave up his movie and decided to come back in here and watch us.
Shama: Why?
Andrew: Just to get a sense of the size of the company, my team went and looked and they said somewhere around three or four million, is that fair in revenue?
Shama: Yeah.
Andrew: That’s fair. Wow, way to go team. Give me an example of a client that you work with. Give me a sense of like a story of what you did for one of your clients.
Shama: Yeah. So it’s really across the board. I mean our clients range from the Navy, to airports, to Chase business. And I think . . .
Andrew: To Dipping Dots, give me one though.
Shama: Yeah. So I’ll tell you about Chase, because I think that’s something that people are fairly familiar with. They’ve maybe even seen this campaign. So we did the Chase BizMobile. So this is the way it usually starts. The client comes to us with a question, need, some kind of problem, right, which we then look to solve going through digital means. And so I think that’s a common problem.
Andrew: Okay. So Chase, the bank company, the bank came to you and said . . . Before we even get to what they said to you, how do you even get Chase to come to you? How did that connection happened?
Shama: Yeah. Great, great, question. So I was on a panel for Forbes 30 Under 30, and one of their top leaders met me after the panel and said, “You know, really interesting what you guys do and your expertise. Let me connect you to someone else in our office. You know, we’d like to see how you can help.” Hence that connection . . . meetings and led from one project to another and, you know, I think with like most clients you grow trust, they get to know you. They feel like, okay, you can, you know, do what needs to be done and then the relationship grows from there.
Andrew: Okay. So they’re watching you, they’re starting to try you out for a couple of things and then they say to you, what did they say that led to this experience that we’re going to talk about with the truck?
Shama: Yeah. So, you know, and I love this. I love when clients start with like a challenge or a problem, and then not sort of the other way which is like, “Oh, we’d like to do a social campaign.” Which may or may not be the answer, right? It’s more like, “Here is what we’re trying to solve.” So what Chase did with Chase business, asked their customers, “What do you need?” Which I think is such a smart question like most people, most banks especially don’t ask their customers. They just figure, you know, it’s all about finance, but they actually asked, “How can we help grow your business?” And their customers came back across the board and said, “We’d like to . . . ” Their top two requests were how to use technology better, right, to grow their business, make sense, and then how to market their businesses better. There seems to be a universal need. Industry’s not slowing down anytime soon.
Andrew: So, you know, how do I use technology in my company?
Shama: Yeah, like how do I use technology to grow my business.
Andrew: Okay, all right. And so Chase now . . . What I’m curious about is why didn’t Chase say, “You know what, we’re not a marketing company. You have to understand, we’re here to hold on to your money and help you borrow more money. We’re not here to help you market your business.” Why didn’t they say this is outside of the scope of what we do?
Shama: Because I don’t think it’s outside the scope, right? Chase is very smart. What they understand is, yes, their customers are banking with them but they’re not banking with them because they need somewhere to put their money. They’re banking with them, bigger picture, step back to grow their businesses, right? To be able to get funding when you need to go, you know, need to expand, to have a relationship. A bank is more than a place where you just put your . . . Like there’s lots of services that offer that.
Andrew: Okay, all right. So they said to Chase here the things that we need. Chase came back to you and said, “This is what our people are saying they need.” What did you do with that?
Shama: So, yes. So they came back and said, “This is what they need. What can we do?” And so we actually came up with a pretty cool concept. Chase was doing these conferences that we helped engage with them before on. And so this was very specific where we came up with this idea of building in collaboration, of course, with the client and partners to do a BizMobile. So, essentially, a mobile on wheels, exactly like it sounds and you might have seen in it in a city. It’s been in over 100 cities so far in the U.S. which would essentially be like this little mobile center that you could enter and get expert advice on your business. And then we actually had our team staff it.
So it’s funny when you say . . . to me singular, it’s always like I’m always taking a little back because like it’s a big team effort and I always try to say we because my part is a small part and all these amazing people pull it off. And so we actually staffed these BizMobiles in different cities where customers come on board and they’ll say, “Hey, I have this question about how do I get more Instagram followers or how do I build my Facebook profile, or how to I get press for this new initiative we have?” Basically . . .
Andrew: And the reason that you did a mobile, you clearly could have said, “Hey, you know what, Chase has offices all over the country.” What we’ll do is we just put somebody in that office and answer questions but that’s not visually interesting. And so you said, “We’re going to do this mobile, this BizMobile because it does look interesting. And if we move it into a different city, it will be a reason for somebody to come over and to talk about,” that’s the thing?
Shama: Yeah. So it’s definitely part of it, right? It’s like word of mouth. That’s so cool, look at this mobile. But it also allowed Chase to go places where they didn’t necessarily have a footprint and I think this is important. Like we were at Detroit Startup Week, right, and it’s part of that.
Andrew: That’s where you kicked off.
Shama: Yeah. And it’s so cool to actually be in the environment where the businesses are, where they need this help. It’s gone to cities where Chase may not have as big of a footprint, right, like in terms of banks so it’s gone into rural communities, it’s gone into places where customers said, “Hey, we would love to be able to have this but we don’t have that expertise right here.”
Andrew: So, you know what Shama, one of the things that . . .
Shama: [inaudible 00:07:52] easy.
Andrew: One of the things that it’s taken me a while to learn is that people who do PR, people who do social media don’t just take what their clients do and amplify them. They come up with stuff for their clients to do and then they come up with ways to amplify them, right?
Shama: One would hope.
Andrew: But that’s the way it should work. And then the other thing that I’m learning is anything that you do that’s local where you go out with BizMobile, where you go out with a tour, anything like that it gives people locally a reason to talk about you and it gives you a reason to connect with people when you’re there, right? Like you . . .
Shama: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
Andrew: So now Detroit is talking about you when you’re starting. You go to something in San Francisco, they have to talk about you or they get an opportunity to talk about you, right?
Shama: Yeah. So, you know, the cool thing was that it led to a lot of national press, but a lot of local press and that’s a great way for our client, from our perspective, to amplify the message to get more visibility for something that’s happening. So I think that worked out pretty well.
Andrew: Okay, all right. I’m curious about where you got started. What led you to do this, to come up with this company? You were . . . I’m trying to see what you did before. I don’t see it. I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile, you are an author, that this is the first thing you did out of school?
Shama: Pretty much.
Andrew: Wow. What did you . . . ?
Shama: So I was 22, 23 when I finished grad school, so I did my bachelor’s. I did my master’s. I did it in the University of Texas at Austin. One like took me, you know, I did my undergrad in three years. I did my master’s in Organizational Communication and Technology. And then I actually did my thesis on Twitter when it had like 2,000 users.
Andrew: You did your thesis on Twitter?
Shama: Mm-hmm, yeah, 2,000 users.
Andrew: What was the topic?
Shama: Why people use social media?
Andrew: That’s it.
Shama: It was very new, yeah, and I wanted to understand why. And I’m happy to share what I found because I think it’s driven a lot of what I’ve created and the foundation we’ve built.
Andrew: What did you find and then I want to go on to how you started the business and why you started this business. But what did you find about why people use social media?
Shama: Yeah. I think it’s connected because, you know, my hypothesis like so many people think it’s people use social media to connect with each other, a sense of community and that’s all true but it’s secondary to the primary reason people even use socials. And what we found is that it’s to showcase their own identity, right? It’s to be able to project who they are and get feedback. So that was a very interesting thing. And then every campaign that we’ve gone on to build has an element of that, really understanding what is it that this person is trying to do, who are they, and so like in Chase’s . . . you asked a great question which why wouldn’t they just stick to finance? Why are they serving their, you know, their marketplace with marketing and business expertise that goes outside the financial realm?
It’s because of this. It’s people don’t just identify with themselves. It’s like, oh, this is, you know, I’m trying to do a banking transaction. They’re thinking, “I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a business owner, these are my bigger goals.” And so a lot of what I learned academically at that point has held and continues to inform a lot of our decisions and campaigns in Zen Media.
Andrew: You got a fan here, Ayesha from India is watching. Are you from India?
Shama: Originally, born, yeah, born there but pretty much raised in Texas all my life.
Andrew: What was it like for someone from India to grow up in Texas?
Shama: You know, it was really interesting and I will say that it was actually, true story, harder transition to move because when my family first came from India we moved to New York and then to Texas, so very brief stint in New York. But it was more of a culture shock moving from New York to Texas than it was from India to New York.
Andrew: Because?
Shama: Because the schools are so different, things are prioritized so differently. The culture is so different.
Andrew: Like what’s one thing that stood out for you that made . . . ?
Shama: New York is very diverse, right? So being a brown-skinned, dark hair, it wasn’t assumed that I was Latin. But here in Texas, it was immediately the case. In fact, I got put in the ESL for a week when I first moved to Texas because I didn’t respond to Spanish.
Andrew: Oh, so they put you into English as a second language thinking . . . I got it, okay.
Shama: Yeah. And it took them a week to figure out that it was because I don’t speak Spanish.
Andrew: Did that bother you? Did that make you think, “I got to show them one day,” or it was something else? No?
Shama: No. You know, I’ve always taken, I mean that’s just sort of personality but I thought it was sort of funny like that they put me in there because English is not my second language. I actually grew up speaking both Hindi and English simultaneously, so it wasn’t like I ever learned. I don’t ever remember learning it as a second language but yeah, I thought it was kind of funny that they put me in there.
Andrew: That’s it. You just saw its humors. I saw when I was growing up everything as I’ve got to show you that you’re wrong. You didn’t have that attitude. What was your driving attitude as a kid?
Shama: Well, in fact, once they figured it out that I respond to English, which is why I don’t speak Spanish, I asked to stay on and help with the other kids. So I ended up working . . .
Andrew: That’s it.
Shama: Yeah. I just ended up helping as well and I enjoyed it. I’ve made friends, you know? It was interesting. I took everything, I think that was just, it’s always in my personality. It’s never been “Let me show them.” It’s been, “Huh, this is interesting. What can I do with this?” That’s me being proactive and that’s kind of what I did. And so, you know, even moving here from India, I think I was so excited by the opportunity. I remember going to the library for the first time, you see in India, at least at the school I went to, the library was reserved for college students. It was not accessible to all the entire school, so all you had were your textbooks. And then when I went to school and saw this library in this fantastic place, you know, I was looking in the library and said, “Well, you can take the book home.”
And I was, to me like that was the most grandest thing someone could have possibly said. Like the fact that I could take this book home and bring it like it blew my mind. So I was just very excited I think by all the sort of opportunities and things available that I didn’t have, you know, necessarily growing there. It’s just a different education system.
Andrew: What led you to start your company then? What’s the realization?
Shama: So it’s interesting because when I got out and, you know, I had my master’s. I had a 4.0 GPA, I was so excited. I was like, “This is a crazy new world.” I don’t know if you’ve ever been to South By Southwest.
Andrew: Yep.
Shama: But have you?
Andrew: Yeah.
Shama: Okay. So I was at one of the first South By Southwest for interactives. It used to be music tech, you know, music, movies or theater and then they have the interactive. I remember that first year there were like 200 people at interactive and I thought, “This is like so cool. This is going to change the world.” But oddly enough, when I got out of school, I found that companies were not open to it, like digital was not a theme. I mean it’s funny to think about now.
Andrew: Like big companies weren’t?
Shama: Mm-hmm, no, because . . .
Andrew: How did you don’t have contact with big companies? I have to tell you, when I went to South By Southwest I thought we are the universe. Anything that’s online is the universe, it’s nobody who is offline. Anything that is latest app is the universe. Anything else is just left behind, it doesn’t exist, it didn’t matter anymore, and these people here are the only ones that matter. How did you even have contact with people outside of this world?
Shama: Yeah. You’re very smart. You’re very smart to think that way because I will tell you and this was the interesting distinction. Because when 2008, 2009, that’s like where that recession hit, right? That’s kind of where markets crashed. That was the time, especially for someone graduating at a school. And so what I found interesting was, and I was meeting a lot of these companies on campus. So like Bain, McKinsey, all these guys were coming to campus to recruit and I thought I’d go the consulting route. I really, like I was excited about that and I thought, “Oh, these guys are cutting edge, like all these big consulting firms and stuff.” And so I started talking to them about, you know, digital and interactive, and so forth. And I have to tell you, I got the most blank looks, it was just such a . . . Like we don’t think like this is a fad, we really think this is going anywhere.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Shama: So we thought like there was no . . . It was crazy because here I was with my research in hand and excited, and I was like, “Look at this, look at this.” And they were just like, “Hmm, like traditional is going to be, you know?” And I was so surprised and shocked. What I found interesting though because it was this recessionary time, smaller business didn’t really care. They just said, “Does this get people in my door? Like is this going to help more people find me? Let’s do it.” And so I think when they first started I have to . . .
Andrew: So wait, how did you talk to small businesses? Now, I understand how you talked to the bigger companies because they were recruiting you in your school. What was it about these small businesses? How did you get into conversations with them?
Shama: I started blogging. I created a blog. I was at BlogWorld New Media Expo, like this is . . . I say these things because it’s funny because it was like such a small cohort back then, you know? It changed so much now. And so I started blogging about marketing, about my ideas, about my thoughts. And then very soon I had people approaching like, to me and this has been very important for us at Zen, we walk our talk, right? We don’t do like cold calling, we don’t do outbound stuff. Clients come to us through referrals, through our own, you know, our own proprietary research, their own IP, to our own messaging that we share there. So I’m big on that and I started out that way.
So I started blogging, creating a newsletter, creating, sharing content, educating people. So content marketing, right, very, very straightforward. But what I found was I thought that it would be these huge companies that were interested in where things were going but that came later. I would say it took about like four or five years in the business where the big guys came knocking. And a lot of them that I had interviewed with, that I was like excited about back in the day, you know, but it was smaller businesses that were our initial customers.
Andrew: They were coming to you because of your blog. I’ll find out in a moment what they were paying for. Let me take a moment though to talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called Toptal. Shama, are you familiar with them?
Shama: I’m not.
Andrew: You know, that’s the problem. So I was at a conference in Bali Running Remote, and as I was sitting in . . . As I was actually outside just looking at the beach, this woman Steph who works for Toptal came to me and she said, “Yeah, Andrew, I was a little disappointed about what happened on stage.” And I said, “Why?” She said, “Everyone is talking about what’s a remote company and they’re talking about lots of remote companies and maybe somebody mentioned us offhand but people don’t realize, Andrew, that Toptal is one of the biggest remote companies out there.” And she said, “I live here in Bali, I just happen to be here and so I came to this conference but I live in Bali. I get to have the lifestyle I love where I work from anywhere in the world. It happens to be Bali now, it could be anywhere else.
All I have to do is get on calls with customers, get on calls with the team and I wish that more people knew about us. I wish that more people recognize how big we were.” And she said, “I’m happy that we’re sponsoring Mixergy because we want to get the word out, and I don’t like that people don’t recognize how fun it is to work here and how big and impactful we are.
And so I’m going to tell you, Shama, and everyone else, here is what Toptal does. If you’re looking to hire developers or designers, or finance people, what you do is you do what I and so many other businesses have done, you go to You hit that button and then you get on a conversation with someone at Toptal who will ask you. “Shama, what kind of programs or what are you looking to develop? How does your team work? Are you all remote? Do you use Slack all day? What languages are you writing in? Who is on your team?”
Then they’ll find the right person to fill in the gaps for you. You get to have a conversation with them. If you want, you could hire them and get started within days. And if you’re not happy, you move on. It’s and when you go to hire from there, whether it’s a designer, a developer, or I’ve hired a finance person that I’ve worked with forever. It’s actually two years now. You’ll get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period. All you have to do is go to top as in top of your head, tal as in talent. The URL is, Steph and Shama.
Shama: Cool.
Andrew: Yeah, I’m glad that I’m getting the word out. Oh, look at this. Shane Mac, we paid Toptal over 200 . . . Wow, over a quarter million dollars to hire the engineers out of Toptal. Oh, he actually hired people from Toptal, then he said to Toptal, “We’re going to give you money just to hire the engineers out of Toptal because they are so good.” Wow. Shane Mac, that’s impressive. Yeah, they are really the best of the best. This is not the cheap place, this is the best of the best place. What were these small businesses paying you for?
Shama: Right. So, when we first started, we’re doing kind of everything in terms of, and they needed a lot of that. And it’s so funny because like until today, we still end up doing so much of their stuff that a little outside our wheelhouse but like whatever needs to get done . . .
Andrew: Like what? What’s an example of a small business that hired you back in the early days?
Shama: Oh, boy. So there was a great company called Canine Cuisine that sold dog food online. And they were one of the early ones and I think in some ways it’s like they were before their time. You know, they sold premium dog food and they were such a great company because the owner was awesome, and we pretty much did tons of stuff for them. We handled their social, we ran their campaigns, we did their PR.
Andrew: And they were then measuring results. They said, “Look, if you’re going to tweet for us, can we actually get customers from it and you had to justify that?”
Shama: So I think that’s always been the case in terms of like ROI, right? How do we get ROI out of it? But I think the challenge and a lot of what we have to educate people on is it’s not a linear thing. Just like, for example, you talking about Toptal, right, that’s awesome.
Andrew: Sponsor, yeah.
Shama: By sponsoring this, like as a sponsor of Mixergy, one of the things they understand is it’s going to be rare where someone hears that once and goes, “Oh, it might happen,” and that’s great. But what much more likely that they hear it over and over, it’s that sort of multiple, that sort of overall visibility that leads to someone keeping . . . Even if someone is not ready to let’s say hire that engineer today or that finance person or whatever it is that they offer, right? It maybe six months from now where they’re like, “Oh, what was that site that we could go to be able to put that.” That’s right.
Andrew: And then they come back to Mixergy and they find . . . But when you’re in a deep recession, I would even call a depression that we were in at the time, and small businesses are coming to you trying something new. They want to know that you actually can get them results, right? How did you prove to them that it was worth working with you?
Shama: So I think one, here’s the funny thing. Right from the beginning and I tell this to my team all the team all the time. I said, like they joke because they, you know, and everybody said, “We don’t preach, we just baptize those who are ready.” Right? Like there’s no . . . so even back then I wasn’t willing to spend a lot of time trying to convince people that it worked one on one. Sorry, I’ve always been excited about and I’ve always been a proponent of digital media and what it means and where it’s going, but I like to that in mass. So I feel like we do plenty of that in, you know . . .
Andrew: So what you were doing was you were just writing about this. I think your site was called Click To Client back then, the business Click To Client?
Shama: Yeah. Before that actually it was called After The Launch, so it’s like so many interactions of where we are today.
Andrew: On After the Launch, you were blogging, you were talking about this. I saw people even interviewing you back as far back as 10, 12 years ago when I was looking you up. You’re talking this is the future, this is the world that I see, and looking to see who is coming to you saying, “I see that, too.” And those people you didn’t have to convince for every tweet I have to show you results. For every blog post I’m going to sell you one thing. You could say to them this whole thing that you’ve been gravitating towards I can implement it for you. And then how did you charge them for it?
Shama: Yeah. So it just depended, I mean even now it’s similar in that some of our clients were monthly like retainer-based clients. And then there were others where it was more of a campaign, right? We want to get this out there. I remember with Canine Cuisine we did like the cutest pet contest or something like that, like we might run a contest. We recently wrapped up a launch for an eye wear company that launched their new line with True Religion in Walmart.
So sometimes things are campaign-based where it’s like, “Hey, we’ve got to get people out there checking out this product in this time frame.” And other times it’s like, “Hey, we need visibility ongoing.” We get it but I never . . . It was funny because, yeah, I was never a fan. Like if we had someone who came to the table and said, “Well, sell me on it.” I kind of knew they weren’t our ideal client, you know?
Clients who came to us and said, “Look, I get it but we don’t have the expertise and/or time or like we don’t know how to do this, or we have one or two in-house people,” or, like, whatever it was, that’s what we were really most effective. Because it is, if someone is looking at that and saying what this one tweet get us or, like again, if your sponsors said, “Well, this one episode, what did we get?” Like that’s not how it works, right?
And then so much of your energy goes in spending, like someone asked me this, too, like how do you convince clients to work with you. And I’m like, “I absolutely don’t. I don’t convince people to do anything. I don’t try to convince people to work with us like when we’re hiring. I don’t think that that’s the great way to go about it.” What I’m much more open to is someone who is excited about the idea and then how can we have sort of a conversation or create something that can be valuable. But I don’t want to spend all my energy and time convincing someone of it.
Andrew: So, you know, Shama, I’m trying to think about how this all relates back to us, how I actually use it here even in my company and I hope that everyone who’s listening is thinking the same thing. You mentioned that our sponsor, Toptal, expects that they’re going to buy a bunch of ads and some will eventually after a few mentions, some people will end up buying.
I feel like we have some sponsors who we’ve said yes to who just want to buy a three-spot test to see if they get their money back from three spots and we actually don’t think after three spots. Now that I think about it, three spots is not going to get you a customer. It takes a while, especially people need to understand what it is, they need to see it a couple of times before they buy. When you can’t do retargeting from a podcast, not like they hear me here and then we can go and buy ads to get them afterwards, which kind of sucks about podcasting.
So instead about talking to them after they expressed interest, after they say, “I have a few thousand dollars, I want to test it, even if I lose it, I’m supporting Andrew.” Instead of at that point saying, “You should buy more than just three ads. You should spend time with our audience.” I think then what Sachit, who sells our ads, should be doing is blogging about and talking about how to buy ads. And maybe even I should, how to buy ads on podcast, educating people so that the people who believe it come through and then they want to buy, right?
Shama: Yeah.
Andrew: We’re not doing any of that.
Shama: Great point. And I think part of it is also like setting expectations. You say, “Hey, you can do three but like here’s what you should expect,” right, versus . . . And so I just did an interesting piece. I have a column with Forbes and I just wrote an article like not too long ago on why PR isn’t working for your company. And we do digital PR with our clients and it’s one of the things that has a great ROI.
But what I found really interesting, Andrew, over like looking back at 11 years is that almost all the clients fall into two buckets. All right. There’s clients who stop after like three months that are just like done. I’m not talking campaigns, I’m talking someone who comes to us and says, “I’m doing a 90-day campaign,” which you totally can do in the PR world. I’m talking about someone who wants to do press, PR on-going and then they stop after three months or they continue once they hit six months onwards, they continue for years and years.
So we have clients who’ve been with us for eight, nine years. And what I thought was that was so interesting, so why does that some folks and those folks, funnily enough, the ones that actually drop out early are the ones that got lots of results. Like even did better in the short term, right, than some of our longer term ones did in the short term. And what I found was very interesting is because they didn’t understand PR. And so my article goes into that and you guys can look it up on Forbes if you’re curious. Part of it was because for every story, like they would expect click and like immediate, right, like turnaround where people like, “Ah, they see the story.” And then they go to a store and they’re breaking down your door to buy. And it’s like it doesn’t work that way in any marketing or advertising.
So this isn’t just like, it’s really interesting because I think people sometimes get very confused about that. And the clients that have continued I’ve asked them and said, “What makes you keep going year after year like you do PR?” And they’re like, “Because we know it pays off.” You stick with it long enough and it pays off but you got to have that sort of mentality.
Andrew: So how can you measure that? That’s something that drives me nuts that I don’t feel comfortable when I can’t measure results right away. I remember even talking to Tony Hsieh back when he was starting Twitter and I said, “How do you know that you’re going to get money back from Twitter? How do you know that customer service is getting you money back? Is there some metric?” And I could never get an answer from him because I think he didn’t have an answer.
Shama: What did he say? I’m curious. Was there an answer?
Andrew: He said, “Obviously, if you treat people right then they’re going to buy from you.” And I thought, well, a lot of things it seem obvious in business don’t actually pan out. Don’t you want to measure it? And I think that the conversation broke down because I was being anal about it. It was almost like saying to my wife, “How do you know that the kiss is good that I gave you yesterday? What am I doing with my tongue so I know how to do it again tomorrow?” You’re ruining the experience.
Shama: Yeah, exactly. You know, it is. It’s like how do you know it’s love or you do it like, it’s sort of this intangible but here’s the thing. I think everything can be measured but here’s what I learned in academia, right? In academia when you research you do quantitative and qualitative. So the quantitative is the stuff that are the numbers. So obviously, when you do press, you can look at, hey, how many click-throughs did this get? How many views did it get? How many, you know, what’s the subscriber count of this site? Like how much would we have paid? So this is our traditional PR is generally measured. If we had taken an ad with the same kind of placement that we’ve got with earned, what would that have cost us? And that’s traditionally how PR has been able to sort of justify and put a number to it.
So there’s like the quantifiable numbers and I mean we deal with this all day long with our clients on social campaigns or experiential or whatever it is. But then you have the qualitative, right, and this is what we’re talking about, Andrew, and this is what Tony Hsieh is talking about in his book, and all this. This is sort of that intangible or, you know, your comment about the kiss with your wife, like this intangible that is really hard to put a number at but it’s your reputation and it precedes you. And it’s, you know, like B2B clients, for example, and we work with ton of B2B companies. One of the things that I find fascinating when they do PR is that their sales cycle shortens, right, and you see this in like a 12-month period.
Andrew: And you could measure it. I mean it takes . . .
Shama: It’s a very quantifiable thing you can measure but the difference is now where their sales rep approach someone. Like let’s say Toptal goes to talk to someone and says, “Hey, this is the service we offer.” They don’t get a who, right?
Andrew: Right.
Shama: It’s not cold. It’s like, “Oh, I’ve heard of you guys.” And that makes all the difference in the conversation.
Andrew: So you don’t have to convince someone of that when you’re talking to them and say, “Trust me, this is going to work out.” You’ve talked about it so much that the right people who’ve bought into the religion, as you said, are ready for you to baptize them as you said.
Shama: Yeah. And it’s not even just me, right? Like they’ve seen in their own how much digital, any smart CMO or marketing person, any business person will tell you the ROI is there for digital. Like there’s a reason everyone is shifting over. And that’s not to say traditional is dead but it’s evolving. It’s evolving in a big way. So it’s not just like me waving, like when it first started it felt like it. I felt like I was this one lonely person on an island during this time. No, of course, like it’s proven across the board. I mean look at even, you know, how much original programming there is, Amazon, NBC, like all these guys are creating original programming. So we kind of see like all of these going in this direction.
Andrew: Let me get it to some of your marketing techniques. Why don’t I start with this, we just talked earlier about when you travel, it gives you reason to do PR. And I thought I’ve been traveling, I’m doing a marathon on every continent this year. We were looking at the numbers. It’s costing a ton of money to do it, easily over $50,000. Just going to Antarctica is going to cost me $27,000 from Chile.
Shama: Are you really going to go to Antarctica?
Andrew: I will. I’ve been running a marathon there, too.
Shama: Oh, wow, an actual a . . . like running, running?
Andrew: Running running and it’s going to be a solo marathon because I couldn’t find an actual marathon. So I found this chartered flight that will take me to Antarctica, land me there with a group of adventurers. They’ll go do their thing. I get to run 26.2 miles on my own and then come back to a tent and sleep.
Shama: You’re like physically running, so when you say marathon.
Andrew: Physically.
Shama: When I say marathon, I mean like a marathon of meetings, not like . . .
Andrew: No, I mean 26.2 miles or running.
Shama: Wow. I’m so impressed.
Andrew: And I’ll be Go Pro-ing the whole thing.
Shama: And you . . . my level of impressed is like way beyond because, well, I’ll give you this funny example. So, as I mentioned to you before offline, I have a newborn and if you have kids, you know, like tummy time is a thing.
Andrew: Tummy time for people who don’t have kids, you got to put your kid on their stomach.
Shama: Yeah, so that could . . .
Andrew: Because they’ll just lay on their back all day, uh-huh.
Shama: Yeah. So, if you don’t have kids like me, I guess, put them starting from the newborn on their tummies where they develop muscles. Well, my kid just passes out on the mat. Like he doesn’t even attempt it and I sent a picture of that to my family on WhatsApp. We have a little family chat and my sister goes, “Oh, my god, he’s exactly like his mom.” So that’s why like I’m saying my level of impressed for the fact that . . .
Andrew: Right, that I’m actually getting up and doing even a mile than . . .
Shama: That’s really wonderful.
Andrew: So here’s the thing. We were trying to see is it profitable and it is. It’s profitable because I’m doing interviews there and then I run ads in the interviews. But what it’s not doing is elevating the brand in any way. How would you think about something like that as a promotional opportunity?
Shama: So, for me, I think the way I look at things isn’t necessarily like how do I take this and make it a promotional activity. I think it’s more is it a relevant fit into what you’re doing. So like I’m not sure that there is a, “Great, like you’re going to do these marathons. Well, it’s a perfect brand fit.” And this is very similar to when organizations want to work with a charity, right, or give back. It makes sense when they do it in a way that connects the dots with their audience. And so I’ll kind of step back and share this example. So we do a lot of work with Mary Kay.
Andrew: Mary Kay, the cosmetics company that sells direct selling.
Shama: Exactly. Oddly enough, I did a lot of work with direct selling companies and I say oddly because it’s not market we targeted. It’s one of those industries where word gets around and so we worked with Mary Kay and . . .
Andrew: Tupperware.
Shama: Tupperware. Yeah, a lot of these, and they’re really awesome companies by the way. I’ve got to say, I think like direct selling gets a bad rap for like stuff that a few companies did like back in the ’80s and ’90s. But the companies like today in these like they’re really some, like doing amazing stuff especially globally. So, anyways, so Mary Kay, you know, for them the things that they’re supporting and doing is taking a stand against domestic violence for example. And they’re teaming up with the Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas. That’s a very appropriate brand connection, right, because their whole premise is empowering women. And so being able to support it in this way there’s a real bridge. So I think what you have to think about is what does that bridge look like?
So, if you’re already going to do the marathons and that’s already set and that’s not going to be in the side, you got to think about how you could . . . And that’s always harder to do when you have two kind of disparate things versus when you have sort of blank slate and then try to figure out, you know, what makes sense.
Andrew: So when you start out with a blank slate with a client, how do you find that thing to do? How do you find that, what the . . . You’re saying you have to connect the dots. How do you find what that dot is that you’re trying to connect and then the path to it? So, if you had to with Mary Kay before they got started supporting organizations that protect women from domestic violence. How would you understand the need that partnering up with a nonprofit that is against domestic violence would solve? How do you find that need and then how do you find the thing that solves it? I see you’ve got an answer.
Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor because I think we’re going to go deep into it. I’m going to show you something that I’m super proud of, Shama, and then I was embarrassed by how proud I was. Let me show you.
Shama: Okay. Is it the marathon you’re running?
Andrew: No, maybe even some ways more. This organization who is my sponsor, ClickFunnels, they decided, you know what, we want to create this aspirational club of people who’ve done over a million dollars in sales with a single funnel. And a funnel for people who don’t know it, a landing page that collects your email address that then steps people to the next part of the process, all the way over to closing a sale.
And they said they’ve got this Two Comma Club, because there are two commas in a million dollars, of people who hit a million dollars or more in a single funnel landing page, sales so I said, “Let’s see if we’re in it.” And Rebecca and our team, “Actually, yeah, I looked into it, we absolutely are. I can verify it.” And they get to confirm it and so they were. And I got this gold record from them to show that I’m in the Two Comma Club, right? Prestigious. I was talking about it a lot. And then I went into a conference for ManyChat and as I talked to people over there, there were a bunch of people who were in the Two Comma Club and I realized, “Huh? It’s not that impressive. Maybe it’s not even me, it’s the freaking software that’s doing it.”
Here’s the thing. I didn’t even want to use their software. What their software does is stuff that I thought I could do on my own which is create a simple page that explains what I’m doing, offers people something, an incentive for giving me their email address, follows up with them after they give me their email address and then close a sale. I could do that, I have tons of tools to do it.
But we signed up for ClickFunnels because somebody said, “Andrew, you got to.” He was a consultant so I said, “All right, let’s just listen to him.” And because Caleb Hodges said, “Do it.” We did it, we started using it. It became so easy that everyone on our team, including Rebecca who is not really a marketer at all started using the software and then she started doing great with it. And then we ended up with a funnel that does over a million dollar in sales.
So what I’m doing here, Shama, is just telling everyone else the same thing that Caleb did with me, “Go freaking try it.” Go try ClickFunnels, they are amazing. They make it so easy for you to create all these pages that convert. Go to, you get to try it for free. I’ll get credit for sending you over there. You’ll be supporting my work here at Mixergy but more than that, you will be open to brand new technology that’s going to change the way that you do business even if you know how to do it yourself. You’re going to love
By the way, I started asking sponsors why they’re buying. I assume ClickFunnels is only buying ads for me because they want to see a direct ROI. One of the things they realize is they just need to now get their name out and now, more people are typing in
Shama: Bravo. Yes, thank you for saying that. And that’s such an important part especially as like search changes so much. One of the things that we look at measure is how many people go to search and type your company name directly, right? That’s such a big, it’s huge. Especially, as search changes now more and more. Having those direct, kind of that broader visibility is everything.
Andrew: And I wouldn’t have thought of it for them because they are such a direct marketing, direct measurement company but they were at these ManyChat conference. They have this big booth. I said, “So how many sales do you need in order to justify?” They said, “At this point we’re not measuring that anymore. Every time somebody sees ClickFunnels, it’s getting in their heads that we’re here in this space.” Oh, Shane is asking here,
So how do you find that dot to connect and then what do you find as a way of connecting it? Oh, shoot, for people who are listening live, it will be produced later on. They’re going to create that URL form so just go to ClickFunnels without giving me credit if you’re listening to this live.
Shama: Maybe please get [inaudible 00:40:14].
Andrew: I’m recording these ads for the future on Mixergy.
I actually like a month ahead, we decided that if something happens to Andrew and Andrew get hit by a bus or get sick or god knows what, the company needs to continue to operate. Sorry, I even have a typo in there. And so we’re now recording interviews on Mixergy about a month ahead. Now, if I die, Shama, for the next month the business will continue.
Shama: God forbid.
Andrew: I constantly think about death, my own death. We’ll talk about that another . . .
Shama: Business must go on, you know?
Andrew: You know, it does. I think about my death. I don’t know if you do but I think about it all . . . I’d say not all the time but several times a week for sure and I plan for it. And when I do my interviews, I do it with a part of me that when I die, this should outlive me and survive me and show people what I stand for. My kids when they’re 18 years old and say, “My dad died when I was five, I want to know who he is,” they should be able to listen to these interviews and get a sense of who I am. And I should feel proud in my death that they really get to know me and what I care about through these interviews. And that’s what I try to stick with. How do I get to a place where I, if I die, my kids will still know who I am through the work that I do and I’ll be proud of what they see. It’s kind of a weird thing.
Shama: Yeah. I think that’s awesome. And, you know, it’s funny because I think death is something that a lot of people, like people are upset by. It’s like, “Oh, why would you even think about that or talk about that?” But in ancient times, people used to carry mementos that reminded them of death every day like the skeleton and stuff like that.
Andrew: Oh, that’s good. I might need to do that.
Shama: Yeah. There’s actually a term for it that will come to me eventually. So there’s a term that the stoics used for like always keeping your death in front of you so you know that life is. And I think part of it isn’t just so much like, oh, how morbid an ending but I think what you’re talking about is, right, it’s sort of that reflection of what it means to really live then, right, every day knowing that . . .
Andrew: It changes this conversation. This conversation could be all about how do I get everyone to go tweet and bring more people in today. I don’t need that. I want to know that this is going to be so meaningful that your kids are going to be proud of who they hear here in this interview. That everyone who is listening five years from now will have one thing that get stuck in their head and it’s not as good as having everyone tweet but it’s still, I mean for business but it’s more meaningful. And I think that in the long run, it pays off for me that when . . . never mind, now I’m going off on me. How do I find the dot that I then connect to?
Shama: In so many ways you’ve just explained, you’ve explained your own ROI question, Andrew. Like what you were asking about, right, earlier, this is like the qualitative stuff that you can’t necessarily put a number on but it’s really important, nonetheless.
Andrew: I guess you’re right. I guess I don’t give myself permission to do it because it doesn’t feel like it’s a head decision. It’s too much of a heart and I don’t want to lead for my heart, maybe that’s a mistake.
Shama: I think like in all things in life there’s the balance, right, between the head and the heart. And leaders who only lead obviously from the heart miss a lot of opportunities for being able to be objective. But leaders who only lead from their head obviously miss opportunities for connection and what it means to be human, and so much of what we do like that’s what’s about at the end of the day.
Andrew: Let me ask you a question that I didn’t feel like I had enough rapport in the beginning to ask you about. But now that we’re talking about this, let’s bring it up. You did $2 million roughly within a couple of years of launching the business. Now you’re doing roughly $3 million, $4 million we talked about. Does it bother you that you’ve only doubled the size of the business within the last decade?
Shama: No. Because, you know, for me, it’s never been about . . . Well, first of all, for me, a successful business a lot of it is about profitability, it’s not about huge revenue numbers. I know companies that do 30, 40 million, they do not have the same margins in terms of . . . And so I think for entrepreneurs listening, profitability is important. Like knowing kind of, and I’ll say this, it’s both quantitative and qualitative even in that realm because, you know, it would have been very easy, it’s very easy even know if I want to have multiple offices and grow to 100 million but it’s not something that I feel really serves what I want to be doing. And what I mean by that is I enjoy keeping our team agile and strong and small. You know, there’s a lot of clients who work with us because they value those things, and so they want that sort of . . .
Andrew: But don’t you take a look at like Gary Vaynerchuk with a little bit of envy and a little bit of admiration. And you say, “Look, he’s grown and he’s still doing this personal touch but look at how much bigger he’s gone and I got into this before him.”
Shama: No, not really because here’s the thing. And like I feel like that’s such a losing proposition when you start to compare yourself to other people and start to say, “Oh, but look at that.” I also see how much is on the road and, you know, if you see some of his videos and I mean it looks exhausting. I’m sure it is exhausting and that’s not what I want for me and my family. And it’s great if . . .
Andrew: And you don’t feel like less of a person, less of an entrepreneur because you’re not hitting his numbers, because you’re just a small percentage of his sales?
Shama: Why should I? Like that’s not my . . . I don’t measure my life or success by that number, by any number like that, you know what I mean? It wouldn’t feel any more fulfilling to me or change my life in a meaningful way to be able to say, “Oh, I’ve got 100 million in revenue and we have all these offices in different cities.” Like that does nothing to help me feel like I’m adding more value to the world, that I’m, you know, creating my . . . that somehow . . . It’s just, I feel like the impact that we make right now is substantial and, you know, and I think that’s like you have different goals and yeah. You know, Shane made a good point like he’s got a very . . . Gary is very clear about his goals. He wants to buy New York Jets. He’s trying to do certain things and that’s like I have no interest in owning a sports team.
And, you know, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t necessarily grow another company to multi-millions of dollars or have a big exit in something else. It just hasn’t been right for Zen, right? Like I really, yes, thank you, Michelle, a memento mori, that’s exactly the term I was looking for.
Andrew: It’s a reminder of death.
Shama: Yeah, it is. And people who actually have mementos of their death and they would often . . . You’ve seen those skeletons and like . . .
Andrew: I have. I thought what they were trying to do is scare us the people who have skeletons on their shirts and . . .
Shama: No. It was supposed to be this, like people would have it in Victorian times on their walls and it wasn’t meant to be creepy. It was meant to be a reminder that, you know, life comes to an end eventually. So, anyway, to answer your question, Andrew, I don’t look at other people and think, “Oh, my god.” Because the thing is there’s always something that you can look at and say bigger, better, stronger, right? But at the end of the day, everyone has their own life lessons, their own path, their own values.
Andrew: I struggle with that. I have to say, I still think about numbers and then there’s no number that will make me happy, there’s just none. And I guess that that makes, that just sets me up for failure for happiness but I don’t know.
Shama: Well, I can’t even speak to that because that’s a very personal decision and that’s your path, right? Like there’s something there for you to solve and learn and grow as a human being. For me, it’s never been, like here’s the crazy thing. The things that I’m doing already put me in such a minority. The fact that we do millions in revenue that we have these clients. I started the company at 22, that we stayed in business. That, you know, I am an immigrant, a woman of color, a minority in so many ways. I never grew up seeing another woman like that saying, “Wow, that’s what I could do one day.”
And like, for me, one of my goals is the reason I’m so public, too, by the way with my persona, it’s not necessarily just to get more clients and be out there. It’s a big part of this, it’s so someone . . . Like I feel like it’s very hard to be what you can’t see, right? It’s much harder to be what you can’t see. And when I hear and I get emails like this all the time. When I hear from someone who is 14 or 18 and they are young women and they’re in school, and they’re like, “This is so cool. I just discovered you for our school project or I heard you speak at this thing. Like I didn’t even know this was possible.” So a big part of my kind of life mission in some ways has become being that representation, right, that representative for people . . .
Andrew: I see that. I saw Ayesha said thank you for being so open about what you’re doing. I’ve started my own agency because of you. Let’s get . . . That’s your dog. We knew ahead of time that your dog and your baby are going to be there in the background. Let’s get into how do you know where you’re going so that you can then start to find that promotional event to help get you there? How does a company know that? How does a company do both of those things? If Mary Kay didn’t have that nonprofit that they are working, how would you help them understand the purpose and then find that means to get to that purpose?
Shama: Yes. I mean it’s time and experience honestly, Andrew. Part of it is just being able to look at things, right? And just like when you’re a doctor, you see enough cases you’re able to say, “Ah, like I’ve heard two of those symptoms, I know what that is.” Like part of it is being able to I think just to our experience and expertise connect the dots, and I’m happy to share more examples.
I think a lot of it starts with audience and understanding your audience in a very fundamental way and then big picture. So with Mary Kay would have to like you could rule things down very quickly. Well, there’s so many great causes, let’s look at like they could do something with pets. Okay, very cool. If they were doing something and their focus was animal cruelty-free products, like if they were launching a new line for that, I would say let’s connect those dots to that, right? Be able to let that happen. If it was something that, you know, or if they, just depending on sort of their audience and their goals.
Andrew: I guess it kind of goes back to what you’re saying about Chase. That Chase checked in with their people, asked them what they wanted. And when they said, “Here’s what we want, a little bit of marketing help. Understanding of how to use software.” They didn’t say, “Sorry, that’s not us.” They said, “Okay, how do we help them get there?” And now, once we’re helping them get there, maybe we can find a way that helps us get some promotion around the country as we’re doing it.
Shama: Yeah, absolutely. And so, with Mary Kay, of course you start with like their whole mission is empowering women, right? So then you come down to it and you say, “All right. If empowering, then that’s a very clear distinction and bucket. Then what other charities or nonprofits or ways empower women? Well, there’s nothing more empowering I would say than walking away from a situation that includes domestic violence of any kind. So that’s a very natural fit.
I’ll give you another example. This one we actually won our client their name in the Guinness Book of Records which is really cool. So we worked with Capital One’s turkey trot with YMCA. And YMCA is really a cool organization and they’ve been around forever. And turkey, like you’re a marathon runner so you might be familiar with their turkey trot. They do it in different cities.
Andrew: I know turkey trots, but I didn’t know that they were putting it on. Okay.
Shama: They do it in different cities and Dallas is actually has the distinction of being the biggest turkey trot in all cities. And so the year we ran it and did all their social and digital PR, they had 40,000 people show up. So it was this massive, massive thing. And so, in this case, you know, obviously the Y serves families in communities and it’s rather broad. They wanted to do something that was sort of fun, that was something that was a little bit of . . . right, like that would get people talking.
And so we got the highest number of people dressed up as turkeys in a given spot. And so we encouraged people to do it, and like there was literally a turkey pen at the run. And it was fun and it got people talking and tweeting and got them in the book of record and stuff. So sometimes it doesn’t always have to be so serious, right? It can be, like so the marathon that you’re running all over in Antarctica, that’s interesting. And so it may not have a direct connection but maybe they’re sort of a fun element there or something that just gets people talking.
Andrew: I feel like then what you’re saying is don’t retrofit it. Think about it from the beginning, understand where people are going with, what people are trying to do and then see if you can . . . The better approach would not be to say how do I get some publicity from what I’m doing but how do I do something that is more in line with my audience is looking for and then get publicity.
Shama: Ideally, yes. But sometimes like you said, there’s an opportunity. You can look at ways where you might be able to connect the dots. The thing is you don’t want to force to fit. Now if it’s not there then you might just end up doing something fun or an element of it, right? So maybe at the end of your marathon, wherever you plant the flag, you’re planting the flag where their sponsor’s name or something like that. So it’s kind of like it ends up being still sort of fun and tying into it but it doesn’t have to become about the whole of event itself.
Andrew: We’re talking memento mori and it’s kind of stuck in my head. I didn’t realize that that’s what those skulls were about. So then I thought maybe I get a skull to remind myself about how I’m dying to push myself to like live more today. I realize no, those skulls are just going to feel too, I don’t know, blah, everyone has it. Then I thought maybe I can get a little casket, that’s even more like morbid but also more moving. I wonder if . . . I think I want to get one of those, the little tiny one from Amazon.
Shama: You can get a coin. You know, they have these coins, that’s how they used to do them and maybe Michelle knows more about this stuff, too. There used to be golden coins that would have memento mori on one side and on the back they’d have like a symbol. So I think the idea is whatever works for you that reminds you of . . . Like I have a friend who does not dye her hair. She lets it go gray because she says every time she looks in the mirror it reminds her. Hey, and that works for her, you know, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Andrew: I wonder . . . Is there anyone out there who’s listening who wants some memento mori coin? I’ll buy one for you and one for myself from Amazon. Let me know in the chat where to send it. Just do it to all panelists. And I’m also going to, if someone wants a casket, like a little toy casket to put on their desk, this could freak us out or it could just like push us out. I’d love to have somebody else try this with me.
Shama: And you know who’s pretty passionate about memento mori is Ryan Holiday. Are you familiar with Ryan?
Andrew: Yeah, I know him. Uh-huh.
Shama: Great. So he’s got that new book coming out, too, called “Stillness.” He’d be a cool guest too, by the way, just as a side note. And we’ve never met and I find his writing to be very, very cool.
Andrew: I do, too.
Shama: Yeah, [inaudible 00:55:06], really stoic and I think he has this, I think this is where I’ve also read about memento mori and he might have these like coins and stuff.
Andrew: Oh, wait, he’s selling these coins. Yeah, look at this. Ryan Holiday is selling memento mori coins. Wow, yeah,
Shama: Yes, there we go. Yeah.
Andrew: Is that his site?
Shama: Yeah, the Daily Stoic. So I think he’s so cool. And actually, this is another example. To me, Ryan is an excellent marketer, an excellent author in that way. So it’s like it’s funny because I think, you know, you mentioned Gary Vaynerchuk who I think is awesome and has done great things but he’s very true to like that is his personality and you played to that. Now, that’s not Ryan’s personality but it doesn’t make his work any less valid. He lives on a farm outside of Austin with goats and his wife. And he’s written multiple bestselling books, he’s very successful but the way he defines success is very different than the way Gary and I define it, right? And it’s a very respectful, to me it’s a respectful distinction. Success doesn’t have to look the same for everybody.
For someone who is, you know, for example, might be starting a business. As long as they can take care of their family and give back to the community, that maybe a success to them. That’s huge. Like to me, I was a nine-year-old kid of immigrants. My parents worked blue-collar jobs. Every day, like my husband too comes from very humble beginnings, we’re both entrepreneurs. We’ve been very lucky to have a wonderful life. And sometimes we’re sitting in our backyard in our pool, it happens often, we look around and we’re giggling like little kids and were like, “How do we, like someone’s going to come here and be like, “Get out!” you know?” We kind of feel like we’re crashing the party a little bit. And so we think there’s always that sense of like wow, look.
I think it’s very important to look back and say, “Look how far we’ve come.” And like even for people who were like Ayesha for example who I know is listening. And I love that she started something and has felt inspired by it. I would never want her to look at me and say, “Oh, I want to be that.” Because that may not be her life, her lessons, her path, right? I think it’s very important to be respectful of that. I’m not a fan of one size fits all.
Andrew: All right. The website for people who want is, actually, I’ve written a bunch of different sites and they all link to the same place. Like they could go to and still end up at, right?
Shama: Yeah, well, we forward.
Andrew: That’s the official site. I like that every one of these old sites redirects to where you are right now, is the website. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first, if you are looking to hire a developer, go check out Toptal, And the second, if you’re listening to me live it’s not going to work but it will work for the people who are listening to the recorded version, ClickFunnels, great software for turning strangers into leads and then into sales, And finally, I want to thank YEC for putting this together with me, Young Entrepreneur Council. You’ve been a member, huh, Shama?
Shama: Yeah. One of the first, like the original five members.
Andrew: Wow. Yeah. Like how many people have stayed in their universe? for anyone who wants to go check them out. I think they were also one of the first people to get that .co URL, that top level domain has worked really well.
Shama: It’s a great community of entrepreneurs. And, you know, when you do all the stuff it’s a lonely world in some ways. It’s like every day you’re working and like anybody out there in this ecosystem? So I think it’s awesome. I’ve had, you know, been again a member for since I pretty much started the company since YEC was formed.
Andrew: Do you use any of their concierge connection services?
Shama: I do. And I also met my husband through it which I think . . .
Andrew: Get out. How did you meet your husband through it?
Shama: He was a member, too, and met at a YEC Summit in Utah which we went snowmobiling. And it was a YEC event and yeah, so that’s how we met.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s my favorite part of conferences where you get to go and be social with people. I like listening to presentation stuff but when I get to go snowmobiling with someone or the next guest I went for a run with him at a conference, those interactions. Even if you go out drinking with someone, even if you go out the conference path and go out for a burger with someone, I feel like you connect and you get more out of it than if you’re just listening. We’re holding an escape there in January.
Shama: Yeah. So it’s called the Escape Summit and it’s really cool.
Andrew: What’s an Escape Summit?
Shama: Don’t worry, Patrick will be there. My husband has already planned it. He goes with all the boys, it’s a lot of fun. But it’s funny because when I met him one of the first questions I asked him is about, this guy is kind of cute but, “Do you have kids?” Like that was my subtle way of asking like . . .
Andrew: Are you married? Do you have a family? Okay.
Shama: Yeah, exactly. Like I don’t want to . . . So a very different conversation. If someone said, “Yes, I do. I have kids and I’m married.” And so he said, “No, but I have nephews,” and that’s how, you know? But I told him, I said, “He’s going this year with all his guy friends and they have a big group that they try to go every year.”
Andrew: Oh, I see. I see an online registration for the 2017 one, for the 2018, for the 2019, I’m guessing there’s another one coming up in 2020?
Shama: Yeah. So that will be in January and . . .
Andrew: And all you do is you just go hang out with other entrepreneurs?
Shama: Yeah, it’s so much fun. I told him if someone asks you this year if you have kids, you better say yes and a wife to go with it. Yeah, no, it’s a lot of fun. And, again, it’s different than a conference because I think like you mentioned it’s a lot more intimate and it’s fun because you get to know people over dinners and, you know, over like the campfire and doing sort of cool activities and things that honestly I never made time for. I’m so bad like if I travel it’s for work. Otherwise, I’m not like I’m sort of a homebody. But I’m so glad I went that year and I’d go again but one has to be with the baby so I’m going to be with the baby while he goes.
Andrew: If YEC is listening, if you got a link to this, I’d love to see. Oh, is it the
Shama: I don’t know, is it guys?
Andrew: We’ll check in with them, they’ll tell us. No, it’s not. What is that? We’ll get that. No, it’s not, that’s something else. That’s something completely different. I don’t know what it is.
Shama: Don’t go to the wrong thing.
Andrew: All right. Oh, there it is. Now, I’m going down the rabbit hole. Oh, there it is,, And it looks like all it is is just spending time with other entrepreneurs. Cool. Thanks so much for being on here. Thanks, Shama.
Shama: Thanks for having me, Andrew.
Andrew: Okay. Bye.


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